April 29, 2001
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Santa Clara University baseball team completed a season sweep and extended its win streak over Loyola Marymount to eight games with a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Lions in Sunday's final contest of a three-game West Coast Conference series at George Page Field.
The Broncos scored all five runs in the first three innings of the game then held off a late LMU rally to win the game. Mike Balestreri made a dramatic catch to end the LMU eighth inning rally, then freshman second baseman Clint Cleland's acrobatic catch of a popup by the Lions' Kris Zacuto ended the game with a runner on third base.
Santa Clara improves to 21-26 on the season and 15-9 in the WCC. LMU falls to 16-35 and 4-20 in the WCC. Santa Clara recorded 13 hits in Sunday's game and 53 overall in the three games of the road series. The Broncos remain in first place in the Coast Division of the WCC and will face co-leader Gonzaga next weekend at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Freshman Kellen McConnell earned the win in his first starting appearance in a conference game on the mound for the Broncos after allowing only one run and five hits in six full innings. Jim DeMartini earned his first save of the season. LMU starter Joshua Muecke (3-7) took the loss for the Lions.
Senior Matt Miller led off with a single for the third straight game for the Broncos. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Joe Diefenderfer and scored on a Jack Headley RBI single to centerfield. The Lions responded with a single run in the bottom half of the inning. Leadoff hitter David Maffei singled to centerfield then advanced to second on McConnell's second balk of the season. He scored when first baseman Jeff Walker singled to centerfield top tie the score at 1-1.
For the fourth time in the series, Santa Clara exploded for four or more runs in an inning when the Broncos scored four runs in the top of the third stanza. Senior Mike Balestreri singled to right field to begin the inning for the Broncos and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Miller. He scored on a single to centerfield by Diefendefer. Headley singled to right field sending Diefenderfer to second base. He was caught stealing third base before Matt Queen's double to right centerfield scored Headley. Mike Theoharis then hit his seventh home run of the season to give the Broncos a 5-1 lead after three-and-one-half innings.
The two teams held each other scoreless until LMU recorded a three-run bottom of the eighth. David Maffei scored on a single to right field by Kris Zacuto after leading off the inning with a double to left centerfield. After Jeff Walker walked, he and Zacuto advanced to second and third base on a wild pitch by Fillinger. Robert Hirsch tripled to left centerfield, scoring both runners. DeMartini replaced reliever Chad Fillinger and struck out Perez for the second out of the inning. With two runners on, Balestreri made a spectacular catch on a line drive by Whitesell to end the inning.
Santa Clara travels to Palo Alto Tuesday for a 6 p.m. single game at Stanford. The Broncos host Gonzaga next weekend in a three-game series that should determine the WCC's Coast Division championship. The first game is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. with single games on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.