March 11, 2010
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Southern Illinois sophomore Chris Serritella spoiled a nine-strikeout performance by Nate Garcia, hitting a go-ahead homer with two outs in the eighth inning off Santa Clara's ace. The Salukis would go on to beat the Broncos 6-5 Thursday night.
It was the opening game of the inaugural Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament, a five-team event (co-hosted by Santa Clara and San Jose State), which runs through Sunday. The Broncos will play both Air Force (1 p.m.) and UC Davis (6 p.m.) on Saturday.
Southern Illinois (5-7) - picked fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll - rebounds from an 18-6 loss at San Jose State Wednesday. SIU will play a neutral site game at Schott Stadium against UC Davis, Friday at 1 p.m.
The second homerun of the year from Santa Clara (5-6) freshman DH Pat Stover - a drive off the windscreen above the 402-marker in dead-centerfield - gave Garcia a one-run lead in the sixth.
Stover finished the night 4-for-5 with two RBI. Lucas Herbst went 3-for-5, tripling in the third inning to generate SCU's first run. Herbst also hit a double off the right-field fence in the seventh. Curtis Wagner added an RBI to up his season total 11.
Garcia (1-3) pitched out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth by striking out Michael Stalter and Austin Montgomery. Garcia would work seven-plus strong innings, allowing just one earned run and six hits before Serritella's fifth dinger changed the game.
With SCU leading 2-1 in the eighth, a leadoff hit by Aaron Roberts followed by an infield single from Brock Harding put two-on with nobody out. Garcia - the WCC strikeout leader from a year ago - punched-out Tony LePore following a sac bunt and had Serritella behind in the count 1-2.
"I thought Nate was doing a good job, pitching hard and competing," said Santa Clara head coach Mark O'Brien. "He left the ball up and (Serritella) took advantage of it."
SIU tacked on two more runs to make it a five-run frame, the second run scoring on a dropped pop fly, which would have ended the inning.
"We waited around tonight and didn't get the job done," said O'Brien. "We made some errors that were careless. We need to play the game the right way and we did not do that tonight."
Despite SIU's five-run eighth, SCU made a real threat to take the game back. Geoff Klein hit a leadoff double and scored in the eighth. Andrew Biancardi doubled-home two more in the ninth, putting the tying run in scoring position before Bryant George (3-0) was able to induce the final out and escape with the win.
"Playing eight games in ten days is a grind," said O'Brien, as the Broncos prepare to play a double-header Saturday. "We need to focus on the first game (Saturday). When that is done we will focus on the second one. Hopefully it will be a day we come out and play with some energy."
GAME NOTES: The Broncos had 12 hits Thursday night, the eighth time in 11 games Santa Clara has totaled 10-plus hits... Garcia's nine Ks Thursday gives him 273 for his career, needing just 27 more to join four others in school history who have reached 300... Tomorrow's tournament game featuring Southern Illinois and UC Davis has been moved up to 1 p.m. due to the chance of rain in the area Friday night.