SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara baseball resumes West Coast Conference action this weekend at Loyola Marymount. The three-game series begins on Friday at 6 p.m. PT at Page Stadium.
"We're excited about the weekend," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "As we see it, our record is 0-0 and our goal is to go 1-0 on Friday. We have two days to have great practices and prepare for that. Things have been challenging, that's for sure, but it's important to keep all of the struggles in perspective. We have a one game season on Friday, that's the mindset, because that's all we can control."
Games #29-31 | Road Games #9-11
Los Angeles, Calif. | Page Stadium
All-Time Series: In a series that dates back to 1932, SCU holds a 91-83 lead over LMU. The Lions won two of three games last season at Stephen Schott Stadium.
Probable Starters (2017 Stats)
Friday, April 7 • 6 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Eric Lex (1-5, 4.35 ERA) vs. LMU RHP Blake Redman (3-4, 3.71 ERA)
Saturday, April 8 • 6 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Jacob Steffens (2-3, 4.20 ERA) vs. LMU LHP Brenton Arriaga (3-0, 2.64 ERA)
Sunday, April 9 • 1 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Michael Bono (0-4, 6.67 ERA) vs. LMU RHP Cory Abbott (5-1, 2.84 ERA)
Last Time Out
Santa Clara baseball lost 13-8 to San Jose State on Tuesday after leading 7-0 through five innings. The Broncos lost both mid-week matchups against the Spartans on the year. SCU held a 7-0 lead over SJSU after five innings but SJSU struck for three in the sixth, six in the seventh and four in the eighth to secure the 13-8 victory. In their last WCC series at Portland, the Broncos won Saturday's game but dropped Friday and Sunday.
Santa Clara (6-22, 2-4 WCC) 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 third-best batting average on the squad at .301. He has started every game this season and has recorded 34 hits including seven doubles and three home runs while driving in 16 runs. He has also recorded 63 putouts and three assists in the outfield.
Brandon Buckley, a freshman out of Kentfield, California, has been a bright spot for SCU out of the bullpen. He has made 12 appearances and pitched 23.1 innings, allowing just seven earned runs (13 runs total) and 19 hits while striking out 33 batters. He also has the best ERA on the team at 2.70.
Catcher Jake MacNichols, a freshman from Napa, California, went deep in his first collegiate at-bat on Feb. 18. He has started 24 of the first 28 games and has hit four home runs on the year. MacNichols also has 186 putouts and 29 assists for a .968 fielding percentage. Opposing baserunners have been caught stealing by MacNichols on 12 occasions this year, the best mark in the WCC.
Broncos in the Field
Junior Jake Brodt has made 117 starts in his career, playing primarily at first base. Brodt has the top batting average on the club at .342 and has recorded 38 hits (111 at-bats). He is first in the West Coast Conference and 21st in the nation with 13 doubles (0.46 per game).
Sophomore infielder John Cresto, a 2016 WCC All-Freshman Team member, is hitting .321, which is the third-best mark on the squad. He is tied for the second-most doubles on the team with seven. Cresto has also hit five home runs on the season, which is the most on the team. He is tied for second on the squad with 13 runs batted in.
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 .242 on the year. He has hit three home runs while driving in nine runs on the year and boasts a slugging percentage of .364. He has 58 putouts as the starting left fielder.
Junior designated hitter Niko Holm recovered from a slow start at the plate to have the best on-base percentage on the squad at .413. He has been walked 14 times and hit by a pitch six times on the season. He has a .254 batting average with 18 hits, including five doubles and four runs batted in on the year.
Redshirt freshman Ryan McCarthy has seen time at designated hitter as well lately and has performed for the Broncos. He owns a .333 batting average, recording 14 hits in 42 at-bats. McCarthy has already hit five doubles, one home run and driven in seven runs.
"He's worked hard and been patient with his process," assistant coach Keith Beauregard said. "Mac has been a great addition to our lineup, he's stepped in and taken advantage of his opportunity thus far."
Junior shortstop Austin Fisher has started in 16 games for SCU and done a job offensively and defensively for SCU. He's recorded 31 putouts and 45 assists for a .950 fielding percentage. He has recorded hits at the plate including a double, a triple and two home runs while driving in five runs and scoring eight himself. He's also walked seven times.
Santa Clara is third in the WCC in home runs (24) and home runs per game (0.86) on the season with 10 different student-athletes hitting those home runs.
Broncos on the Mound
Santa Clara is second 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). Steffens threw his first-career complete game against Northwestern (March 3) and tied a career high in strikeouts with 11. Steffens threw another complete game at Portland (April 1), also striking out 11 batters. He has thrown 49.1 innings, allowing 23 earned runs (30 runs total) while striking out 55 batters. His 55 Ks is a top-26 mark in the nation and No. 2 in the conference. Steffens is also second in the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 5.50.
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 1-5 on the year with a 4.35 ERA in 39.1 innings pitched. He has recorded 39 strikeouts, the fifth-best mark in the league.
Junior Michael Bono has made six starts this season and has shown a lot of improvement in his time as a Bronco. He has thrown 29.2 innings and has an ERA of 6.67.
Freshman Grant Nechak has made four starts on the year and 10 appearances total. He 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 1-4 on the year and has thrown 33.0 innings with a 4.91 ERA.
"I think Grant has come as far as any of the freshman pitchers on the roster," associate head coach Gabe Ribas said. "He has a very mature approach and game plan and as he is getting more comfortable with the physical demands of the season and the pace of play, things are starting to go well for him. Grant is showing that he is going to be a cornerstone of the pitching staff here for the next two to three years."
With 15 newcomers, the Broncos have a very young squad but the team was also dealt two injury blows prior to the start of the 2017 season. Pitchers Steven Wilson and Travis Howard, both of which were likely to be weekend starters, suffered season-ending injuries.
LMU boasts a record of 19-10 overall this season and is 7-2 in the league play. The club is riding an eight-game winning streak heading into the weekend. As a pitching staff, the lions lead the league in allowing just 8.33 hits per nine innings. And boast a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.62, the No. 2 mark in the conference. They allow 3.93 earned runs per game, good for fourth in the league. Offensively, the Lions have drawn 124 walks (tops in the WCC), have been hit by a pitch 37 times (tops in the WCC) and have a team batting average of .279 (second in the WCC). With their league-leading on-base percentage of .379, the Lions steal 1.62 bases per game, which is the 30th-best mark in the nation. LMU scores 5.4 runs per game, which is good for fifth in the conference.
Connect with the Broncos on Social Media