May 16, 2003
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University baseball team won its series opener with Saint Mary's by a score of 11-8 Friday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium, assuring the program its first winning season since 1997. The win moves the Broncos' record to 29-26 overall and 19-9 in West Coast Conference play, while the Gaels fall to 18-35-1 overall and 8-19-1 in league action.
Santa Clara jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, sparked by Jason Matteucci's RBI triple to left center that scored Jack Headley. Saint Mary's answered right back in the top of the second inning with a run of their own as Adam Bellows led off the inning with an opposite field home run. SCU proved resilient as A.J. LaBarbera led off the bottom half of the second with a solo home run over the left field fence to up the Broncos' lead to 3-1.
The Gaels added four runs in the third, highlighted by a Stephan Foushee three-run home run to center, and two more in the fourth to take a 7-3 lead before the Broncos plated three in the bottom half of the fourth and trailed by only one after four wild innings. Will Thompson led off the bottom of the fourth with his ninth home run of the season while Scott Dierks picked up his 40th and 41st RBI of the season with a two-run double to left center.
After a scoreless fifth inning for both sides, Mike Harris led off the SMC half of the sixth inning with a triple to right center field. He would come home two batters later on a sacrifice fly to right field, giving the Gaels an 8-6 lead.
The Broncos began a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh inning as Jim Wallace and Thompson put together back-to-back singles before LaBarbera brought home Wallace with a double to right center, narrowing the lead down to 8-7.
Chad Fillinger, who came on in the third inning and allowed only one run on one hit in his five innings of work, struck out the side in the Gaels' half of the eighth inning, setting the stage for a Bronco comeback.
In the bottom half of the eighth inning David Hoffmire and Michael Lange each walked to start the rally. Hoffmire advanced to third on a fairly deep fly out to left field by Dierks, placing the tying run only 90 feet away. Headley promptly singled to center to tie the score at eight. Matteucci picked up his second hit and second RBI of the night as he singled through the right side, brining home Lange and giving the Broncos a one run advantage. The wheels began to come off for Saint Mary's at this point as Headley and Matteucci attempted a double steal on strike three of Jim Wallace, but Foushee's throw to second went into center field, allowing Headley to score. Lange would come around to score on Thompson's third hit of the night, a looping single to center that gave SCU a 9-6 advantage. LaBarbera reached on a fielding error by Mike Harris to prolong the inning, but a sharp line drive off the bat of Ryan Chiarelli was snagged by Harris to end the inning and prevent any further damage.
With the Broncos up by three heading into the ninth inning, they turned to freshman closer Patrick Overholt who brought his best stuff with him to the ballpark on Friday night. With his fastball topping out at 93 MPH and his slider breaking sharply at 84 MPH, Overholt collected his 10th save of the season as he struck out one to preserve the win. The saves moves him into a tie for first place all-time at Santa Clara for saves in a single season, tying the mark set by Mike McDonald in both the 1996 and 1997 seasons. He also moved into a tie for fourth place on the all-time career saves list at SCU.
"It was nice to be back in a save situation," said Overholt following the game. "I got really fired up when we took the one run lead in the eighth, then when it got up to three runs, I was even more excited to get out there. This is a great thrill for me, I had to come in and prove myself as a freshman during spring ball and show that I belonged. I love the role that I am because you really have an impact in helping the team win games, and that is what it is all about."
Fillinger improves to 2-0 on the season with his five innings of stellar relief while Joey Gonzales takes the loss and falls to 1-3 after allowing three runs on three hits in three innings of work. The Gaels used five pitchers in the game as the starter, Kevin Trochez, was replaced even before he threw a pitch in the first inning. David Fox came on and allowed six runs on six hits in four innings on the mound.
The Broncos move one step closer to reaching 30 wins for the first time since that 1997 season. They will try to attain that mark over the next two days and they wrap up their season with the final two games of the series against Saint Mary's. Both games over the weekend are scheduled for 1 p.m. starts.