May 21, 2004
PORTLAND, Ore. - The University of Portland baseball team made the most of its chance to play spoiler today as the Pilots claimed a 7-6 victory over Santa Clara, effectively ending the Broncos' hopes of winning a division title.
Santa Clara, 25-29 on the season and 14-14 in West Coast Conference play, entered Friday's series opener three games behind West Division-leading Pepperdine with three games to play. The Waves dropped a 9-5 decision at the University of San Francisco earlier in the day, so the Broncos had a chance to gain a game on Pepperdine in the standings.
The Pilots (12-42, 6-33 WCC) had other ideas. Pilot starter Sean Sargent went eight-and-one-third innings while limiting the Broncos to five runs on 10 hits to earn his fourth win of the season against seven losses. Junior Kellen McConnell (5-7) was charged with the loss, while Portland's Joe Jones earned his first save of the season.
The two teams will play the final two games of the regular season on Saturday and Sunday with 1 p.m. starts each at Pilot Stadium.
One big inning doomed the Broncos as the Pilots hung six of their seven runs on Santa Clara in the bottom of the second inning. Down 1-0 after the first inning, Portland tied the score at one-apiece on a double by Jesse Rodgers with one out. Gustaf Little struck out swinging to give the Pilots two outs with two runners on base before Nik Kosach singled up the middle, scoring two runners to give the Pilots a 3-1 lead.
The next batter, Travis Vetters, doubled to left field to score Kosach then Jeff Crinkle homered to give Portland a 6-1 lead.
The Broncos allowed just five hits the rest of the way while beginning to chip away at the Portland lead. Santa Clara put two runs on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning as Jason Matteucci's sacrifice fly scored Ryan Chiarelli from third, then Will Thompson doubled to score Robert Perry from first base.
In the top of the ninth, pinch hitter Nathan Faulker walked to leadoff and advanced to second on a Chiarelli grounder to the second baseman. He scored when Perry doubled to left field to bring SCU to within three runs.
Joe Jones entered the game with one out and Perry on second base and sent the Bronco freshman to third on a wild pitch. Matteucci homered over the right field fence to bring the Broncos to within one at 7-6. Will Thompson grounded out to the first baseman and Nic Crosta struck out to end the game.