SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara baseball opened an eight-game homestand at Stephen Schott Stadium on Tuesday with a 9-5 over Connecticut. The squad then hosts Purdue for a four-game series that begins on Thursday.
"It's hard to see with an understandable focus on the win-loss column, but this young team is learning, growing and improving game by game," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "It's critical that we stay focused and concentrate on getting better every day. If we do that, I think we're going to surprise some people as the season develops."
Saturday Game 1
Saturday Game 2
Games #17-20 | Home Games #13-16
Santa Clara, Calif. | Stephen Schott Stadium
All-Time Series: This is the first matchup against Purdue in team history.
Probable Starters (2017 Stats)
Thursday, March 16 • 6 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Jacob Steffens (1-1, 2.45 ERA) vs. PUR RHP Jack Dellinger (0-1, 13.50 ERA)
Friday, March 17 • 6 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Eric Lex (1-3, 3.22 ERA) vs. TBD PU RHP Tanner Andrews (3-1, 5.55 ERA)
Saturday, March 18 • 3 p.m. PT – Game 1 of Doubleheader
SCU RHP Michael Bono (0-2, 5.54 ERA) vs. PU LHP Gareth Stroh (1-2, 8.00 ERA)
Saturday, March 18 • 6:30 p.m. PT (or 30 minutes after game 1 ends) – Game 2 of Doubleheader
TBD vs. PU RHP Mike Kornacker (0-0, 7.00 ERA)
Santa Clara (3-12) has 15 newcomers on the 2017 squad and many of them will play significant roles this season. "We really focused on getting humble, hard working, grinders," head coach Dan O'Brien said on Feb. 14 at Bay Area Baseball Media Day.
Andre Nnebe, a freshman centerfielder who hails from Oakland, California, boasts the top batting average on the squad at .365. He has started every game this season and has recorded 19 hits including three doubles and a home run while driving in five runs. He has also recorded 35 putouts and has a perfect fielding percentage.
"We are very pleased with his development on the offensive and defensive side of the ball," assistant coach Keith Beauregard said. "He has a high aptitude for learning and flourishes in a competitive environment. He's a player you pay to watch play."
Brandon Buckley, a freshman out of Kentfield, California, has been a bright spot for SCU out of the bullpen. He has made six appearances and pitched 14.0 innings, allowing just three earned runs (four runs total) and 10 hits while striking out 21 batters. He also has the best ERA on the team at 1.93.
Catcher Jake MacNichols, a freshman from Napa, California, went deep in his first collegiate at-bat on Feb. 18. He has started 14 of the first 15 games and three of his six hits on the season are home runs. MacNichols has a .326 slugging percentage along with 103 putouts and 17 assists for a .992 fielding percentage.
Broncos in the Field
Junior Jake Brodt has made 104 starts in his career, playing primarily at first base. Brodt has the second-best batting average on the club at .362 and has recorded 21 hits (58 at-bats). He is third in the West Coast Conference and the leader on the team with six doubles.
Sophomore infielder John Cresto, a 2016 WCC All-Freshman Team member, has been seeing the ball well at the plate this season. He is hitting .333, which is the third-best average on the team. He's hit five doubles on the year, which is just behind Brodt for the team lead. Cresto has also hit two home runs on the season and is ranked fifth in the conference in slugging percentage at .630. He is tied for first on the team with eight runs batted in and leads the squad in runs scored with nine.
2016 West Coast Conference Honorable Mention honoree Tyler Meditz, a senior outfielder, has started every game for the Broncos this season. The Honolulu, Hawaii native is hitting .218 on the year. He hit his first home run of the season against Michigan on Feb. 26 and boasts a slugging percentage of .291. He has 37 putouts as the starting left fielder and a perfect fielding percentage.
Junior designated hitter Niko Holm recovered from a slow start at the plate to have the third-best on-base percentage on the squad at .400. He has been walked 11 times and hit by a pitch three times on the season. He has a .217 batting average with 10 hits, including three doubles and two runs batted in on the year.
Santa Clara is second in the WCC in home runs (11) and home runs per game (0.73) on the season.
Broncos on the Mound
Santa Clara is third in the league in strikeouts per nine innings at 8.2.
Redshirt senior RHP Jacob Steffens has stepped into the starting rotation after being a relief pitcher in 2016 (recovering from Tommy John) and been excellent on the mound for the Broncos. Steffens threw his first-career complete game against Northwestern (March 3) and tied a career high in strikeouts with 11. He has thrown 29.1 innings, allowing eight earned runs (10 runs total) while striking out 30 batters. His 30 Ks is a top-60 mark in the nation and No. 3 in the conference.
Redshirt sophomore RHP Eric Lex has been the No. 2 starter for SCU this season after missing the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery. He is 1-3 on the year with a 3.22 ERA in 22.1 innings pitched. He has recorded 22 strikeouts on the year.
Junior Michael Bono has made three starts this season and is the probable starter for game one of Saturday's doubleheader against Purdue. He has thrown 13.0 innings and has an ERA of 5.54 with a record of 0-2.
Freshman Grant Nechak has made four starts on the year and earned the first win of his collegiate career on March 4 against Northwestern. Nechak allowed just four hits in his 7.0 innings pitched and struck out eight batters without allowing a single walk in that game. The 6-4 right-handed pitcher is 1-3 on the year and has thrown 19.0 innings.
The Purdue Boilermakers own a 6-8 record heading into the four-game series at SCU. Purdue has also played every game away from home this season. The team averages 2.15 doubles per game, which is second in the Big Ten Conference and 42nd in the nation. Harry Shipley leads the team with seven stolen bases and his .54 bases swiped per game is the No. 30 mark in the country. Evan Warden leads the nation in times being hit by a pitch at 10 (0.77 per game).
Hot Chocolate Hitter - If Santa Clara's leadoff batter reaches base in any inning, hot chocolate is $1 at Bronco Concessions for the rest of the half inning
Parking: Parking is now available in the Guadalupe lot, adjacent to 455 El Camino Real. The Guadalupe lot is reserved beginning 60 minutes before game time through the end of the event for free parking. Baseball parking is no longer allowed in the lot behind Schott Stadium's left field wall. Overflow parking is available in the Leavey Center lot. Spectators that plan to arrive more than an hour prior to game time on weekdays are encouraged to purchase a parking permit for the Leavey lot. All SCU lot parking is free on weekends however on Saturday the Leavey Center lot may be full due to a softball tournament and SCU hosting the CIF Basketball Championships. ADA parking is available in the lot directly in front of the main gates; there is no general public parking in this lot. Follow signs for parking instructions. Map can be found here.
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