Jan. 30, 2004
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University baseball team opened up the 2004 season with a 6-2 victory over UC Riverside Friday afternoon at the UCR Sports Complex in Riverside, Calif. With the win, the Broncos improve to 2-1 in season openers under third-year head coach Mark O'Brien.
"It's always good to get an early win under your belt," said O'Brien. "Our pitching was phenomenal today while we got some clutch hits and big defensive plays to secure the victory."
Senior Chad Fillinger started on the mound for the Broncos and went five full innings, allowing two runs on only two hits while striking out five in his season debut. Fillinger gave way to junior Anthony Rea to start the sixth inning. Rea picked up the win as he did not allow a hit in his two innings of work, striking out three. Fellow junior Kellan McConnell closed out the game and registered the save as he struck out four in his two innings on the mound.
Rea's win was made possible in the eighth inning as sophomore transfer Dustin Realini doubled home junior Will Thompson for a 3-2 lead. Junior transfer Nic Crosta, who advanced to third on the double by Realini, scored two batters later on a wild pitch by UC Riverside pitcher Daniel Stange for a 4-2 advantage.
Earlier in the game Santa Clara took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning on a groundout to second base by freshman leadoff hitter Robert Perry that scored sophomore Matt McColgan whose double started the one-out rally. McColgan advanced to third on a single from fellow sophomore Michael Lange, making Perry's RBI possible.
The Highlanders responded in the bottom of the fifth with their only two runs of the game as catcher Nick Salotti hit a two-run home run off Fillinger to give UCR a 2-1 lead. Salotti knocked in shortstop Brian Steinmeyer who reached one batter earlier when he was hit by a Fillinger pitch.
Salotti finished the game with two of the three hits for UC Riverside as his double in the third inning was the first base runner of the game for the Highlanders. Third baseman Tony Festa was the only other UCR player to get a hit as his two-out single to right field in the ninth went for naught after SCU third baseman Dustin Realini made a terrific play on a short hop, throwing out UCR's cleanup hitter, Matt Cunningham, at first base.
Santa Clara got two insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning after Perry was walked and later driven in by Will Thompson, who belted his first home run of the season off Highlander pitcher Jose Shaw. Thompson's home run was the 12th of his career as a Bronco.
SCU and UC Riverside will play game two of their three game series Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at the Riverside Sports Complex. Sunday's series finale is slated to begin at Noon.