March 13, 2010
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara let an early five-run lead evaporate before rallying to beat Air Force 8-7 in extra innings Saturday afternoon during the Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament at Stephen Schott Stadium.
Pat Stover's RBI-fielder's choice was the difference in the top of the tenth for Santa Clara (6-6). The Broncos overcame an afternoon in which their offense stranded 22 runners and its pitching allowed 12 hits.
The Broncos amassed 10 hits in the first three innings, chasing Air Force starter Sean Carley in the fourth. Tommy Medica hit his third homerun and had three hits. Curtis Wagner drove in three and Geoff Klein hit a clutch double in the ninth, which allowed SCU to tie the game.
Air Force (3-11) had six different relievers combine to hold SCU scoreless through innings four-eight and allow the Falcons to comeback and take the lead 7-6.
After SCU left the bases loaded in both the seventh and eighth, AFA stopper Matt Zettler (0-2) was trying to close out SCU in the ninth. However, Klein's leadoff double into the right-field corner led the to tying run on Stover's infield single and subsequent throwing error by Falcon shortstop Matthew Roberts.
Santa Clara loaded the bases once more in the tenth and this time would cash-in with the go-ahead run - again coming on an infield grounder by Stover.
"I thought we sped the game up a little bit and lost some focus," said head coach Mark O'Brien about giving away the early lead. "We regained composure and did what we needed to do. It's big to win the first game of a doubleheader, hopefully it allows us to play well in the second game."
J.R. Graham pitched a hit-free bottom of the tenth to earn his second save and make a winner out of senior reliever Steve Kalush (2-0), who lowered his season ERA to 0.93 by holding Air Force scoreless through 3 2/3 innings in the game's later stages.
The extra-inning victory helped the Broncos avoid falling to 0-2 in the Jack Gifford Tournament.
"It's nice to get a victory like this one. Especially after we came out flat Thursday against Southern Illinois," said SCU first baseman Curtis Wagner. "Hopefully we can just keep the pedal to the metal the rest of the weekend."
The Broncos play their second game of the day at 6pm against UC-Davis.
GAME NOTES: It was the third day of the inaugural Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament; Santa Clara was the designated visiting team despite playing on its home field at Stephen Schott Stadium... SCU starting pitcher Jon Hughes pitched 4 2/3 innings giving up six hits, five runs and struck out five but was unable to get out of the fifth - a four-run inning for AFA... Bronco senior catcher Patrick Terry made his first collegiate start... The Broncos are hitting .347 as a team and boast a .442 on-base percentage... Air Force pitchers plunked eight SCU batters - the Broncos have had 30 hit batsmen through 12 games.