Feb. 2, 2009
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The countdown to Opening Day 2009 has begun for the Santa Clara baseball team. On February 20, the Broncos will take to the diamond in one of the first six games to start the new season. Florida Gulf Coast will officially have the very first pitch of the 2009 season when it battles Central Michigan in a Midnight match-up in Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 20.
SCU head coach Mark O'Brien is excited to begin the season on the East Coast. "I think it is very good for us to open up in the Eastern Time Zone," said O'Brien. "It is a good test of traveling a long distance and having to get ready to play shortly after we arrive. I am counting on our experience and leadership to help us in that area. We need to be able to play well on the road and this is a good test right out of the gate."
First Six Opening Day Games
Central Michigan at Florida Gulf Coast - Midnight ET
Connecticut vs. Michigan State - 10 a.m. ET
West Virginia vs. Indiana - 10 a.m. ET
Bradley vs. Pittsburgh - 11 a.m. ET
Air Force vs. Navy - 11 a.m. ET
Santa Clara vs. Xavier - 11 a.m. ET
The Broncos return 23 lettermen and welcome 11 newcomers. Leading the charge are preseason All-Americans Tommy Medica (C, Jr.) and Thain Simon (RHP, So.). O'Brien also returns four additional All-West Coast Conference honorees in Brady Fuerst (INF, Sr.), Matt Long (OF, Sr.), Nate Garcia (RHP, Jr.) and Jon Karcich (INF, Jr.).
"We built a good foundation in the fall with some key returning players," said O'Brien. "We are battle tested. It's nice to have guys who have been there before in your lineup and to have pitchers who have gone through the battles on the mound."
The 2009 schedule boasts seven teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament - N.C. State, Stanford, UC Davis, Pepperdine, Long Beach State, California and San Diego - and four teams ranked in preseason polls - Stanford, San Diego, Pepperdine and California. The Broncos being the year with a road trip to the East Coast. Santa Clara will face Xavier, Rhode Island and N.C. State in a late February tournament in Raleigh, N.C. SCU then opens its home schedule against the Golden Bears of Cal on February 25 at 6 p.m. The Broncos close out the month with their annual series against the Spartans of San Jose State on Feb. 27-Mar. 1.
The rest of the non-conference schedule is highlighted by a trip to Eugene, Ore., to face the Ducks, two home Ivy League series against Cornell and Dartmouth, single games against UC Davis and Stanford, and a home series against San Diego State in early May.
The Broncos begin the ever-so-tough WCC schedule on March 27-29 against Loyola Marymount. SCU will also host San Diego on April 3-5, concluding the series with a nationally televised game on ESPNU. Santa Clara closes out the regular season on the road against Pepperdine on May 15-17 and a single non-conference game against Cal Poly on May 18.
Visit www.SantaClaraBroncos.com next Tuesday for Part II of Countdown to Opening Day.