May 14, 2004

Ninth Inning Heroics Provide Bronco Win

May 14, 2004

Final Stats

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University baseball team kept its hopes for a West Coast Conference division title alive Friday night with a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over division-leading Pepperdine at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Freshman pinch hitter Nathan Faulkner's single up the middle scored David Hoffmire from second base in the bottom of the ninth inning for the game winner. The victory improved Santa Clara's record to 23-28 on the season and 12-13 in the WCC, while Pepperdine fell to 23-27 overall and 17-8 in league play.

Bronco closer Anthony Rea earned the win to move to 4-1 on the season, while Pepperdine starter Jacob Barrack (8-4) was credited with the loss. Kellen McConnell was the Broncos' starter, going seven full innings and striking out seven Waves batters before giving way to Thomas Van Buskirk and Rea.

At the plate, Santa Clara freshman Robert Perry led the Broncos with three RBI in the game, while Michael Lange and Shawn Epidendio each went 2-for-2 for the game.

Santa Clara sits five games behind Pepperdine in the West Division standings with five games remaining. The Broncos need wins over the Waves in each of the next two games as well as a sweep of their three-game series at Portland combined with a USF home sweep of Pepperdine next weekend. Should the two teams tie in the league standings, Santa Clara would advance to the WCC Championship series by virtue of a 4-2 season record against the Waves.

The two teams will meet on Saturday and Sunday with both games beginning at 1 p.m.

Pepperdine jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after scoring two runs in the second and third innings. The Waves played small ball to perfection in the second inning. After Chad Tracy opened the inning with a single to left field, Cory Brightwell successfully bunted down the third base line to put runners on first and second with no outs.

Patrick Rooney then hit a sacrifice bunt down the third base line that advanced both runners. After Justin Sandberg struck out, Nick Kliebert hit a single to left field that scored Tracy and Brightwell.

In the third, the Waves added two more runs as Luke Salas, Kleen and Brent Lewis each singled to start the inning. Salas scored on Lewis' single to second base on a hit that took an odd bounce on Bronco second baseman Dustin Realini. Kleen scored on a passed ball.

The Broncos got on the board in the bottom of the third inning on a monster home run that cleared the left field scoreboard by Lange. The homer was Lange's third of the season and second in five games.

Down 4-1, Santa Clara scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning as Realini and Lange each singled to put two Bronco runners on base with just one out. Perry singled up the middle to score both runners and bring the Broncos to within one run.

Santa Clara tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Catcher David Mandley was hit by a Barrack pitch to leadoff the inning then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Lange. Ryan Chiarelli grounded out to third, but advanced Mandley on the next play before Perry's single to left field drove him home for the tying run.

In the bottom of the ninth, with the score tied at 4-4, third baseman Shawn Epidendio hit a single up the middle to leadoff the inning. Hoffmire came into the game as a pinch runner and advaned t second on a sacrifice bunt by Realini. Faulkner, pinch hitting for Mandley, came to the plate and, following a Pepperdine pitching change, hit a single up the middle off reliever Kleen to claim the game-winning RBI.