March 19, 2010

Santa Clara Brings League-Leading Offense to San Diego

March 19, 2010

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara Broncos and their high-powered offense travels to Montezuma Mesa to play four games against 2009 NCAA Regional qualifiers San Diego State, March 20 through 23.

Santa Clara (7-7) @ San Diego State (6-10)
March 20-23 | Tony Gwynn Stadium | San Diego, Calif.
Saturday 6 p.m. | Sunday 1 p.m. | Monday 6 p.m. | Tuesday 1 p.m.
LIVE VIDEO: GoAztecs.com | GAMETRACKER: SantaClaraBroncos.com

PITCHING PROBABLES
SAT -RH Nate Garcia (1-3, 6.57 ERA) vs. RH Addison Reed (3-1, 2.36 ERA)
SUN- RH Alex Rivers (1-2, 4.82 ERA) vs. RH Bryan Crabb (1-2, 2.91 ERA)
MON- TBA
TUE - TBA

SANTA CLARA (7-7)
The Broncos are hitting .347 as a team and scoring nearly eight runs per game. The Broncos boast the best offense in the West Coast Conference and possess three of the top five batters in the league - 1B Curtis Wagner (.437 BA), OF Pat Stover (.424 BA) and UT Tommy Medica (.413 BA). Senior starters RH Nate Garcia (1-3, 6.57 ERA) and RH Alex Rivers (1-2, 4.82 ERA) are scheduled to pitch Saturday and Sunday. Garcia was the WCC's strikeout leader in 2009. Rivers has already posted a shutout victory this season.

SAN DIEGO STATE (6-10)
The Aztecs have lost 4-of-5, including three-straight on their home field at Tony Gwynn Stadium. SDSU was picked to finish third in the Mountain West Conference preseason coaches poll. Six-foot-three, 220-pound Addison Reed (3-1, 2.36 ERA) - the 2009 NCBWA Stopper of the Year recipient - recorded a nation-leading 20 saves in 20 opportunities last season, finishing the year with a 0.65 earned run average. He will be the Broncos' opposing pitcher in the opener Saturday night. Reed beat No. 23 Kentucky March 4 and has been impressive for an Aztec team that has really struggled to score. The Aztecs are averaging 5.3 runs per game and hitting .250 collectively. Eight of SDSU's 16 games have come against ranked teams, opening the season with four losses at then-No. 22 Oklahoma, winning 2-of-3 against then-No. 19 San Diego and beating then-No. 22 Kentucky in a single-game at home.

SCU PITCHING
Santa Clara has proven starting pitching in the front end of its rotation in seniors RH Nate Garcia (1-3, 6.57 ERA) and RH Alex Rivers (1-2, 4.82 ERA). Garcia and Rivers have combined to make 70 starts. Garcia has been the `Opening Day' starter for three consecutive seasons and ranks fifth all-time at SCU in strikeouts with 273. Rivers has had his moments, succeeding as a starter, reliever and closer during his SCU career. Freshman RH Jon Hughes (2-0; 6.29 ERA) has been impressive in four starts, striking out 27 in 24 1/3 innings. Hughes gives the Broncos a legitimate No. 3 starter.

The real question mark has been the SCU bullpen. Staked to a four-run lead after an outstanding starting debut from true-freshman RH Chris Mendoza (0-0; 8.22 ERA) Sunday against Southern Illinois, six Bronco relievers combined to allow 10 hits and eight runs in an inning and a half. Lucky the SCU offense came to the rescue with six runs in the ninth. But the bullpen's collective ERA is just under 7.00. Senior RH Steve Kalush (2-0; 0.93 ERA) and sophomore closer RH J.R. Graham (0-1; 3.86 ERA) have been the most effective options thus far.

SCU OFFENSE
Hard to find a more explosive offense than Santa Clara's right now. The Broncos lead the WCC in batting average (.347) - 40 points higher than St. Mary's who bats .307. Santa Clara is having no trouble generating scoring opportunities, reaching base at a .439 clip and scoring nearly eight runs per game. UT Tommy Medica (.413 BA) brings a 7-game hitting streak into the weekend series at San Diego State. 1B Curtis Wagner (.473 BA) is leading the WCC in batting average and hitting .661 with RISP this season. The heart of SCU's batting order (Wagner-Medica-Klein-Stover) is a combined 98-for-236 (.415 BA). Hitting behind the highly-decorated catching combination of Medica and Klein is freshman OF Pat Stover (.424 BA) a true power hitter who has already totaled six extra-base hits and two homers. Geoff Klein (.356 BA) went 10-for-18 during the four-game weekend with two homers and two RBI. Stover was 10-for-19 with three doubles and a homer. Both were both named all-tournament players at the Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament. SS Justin Viele (.375 BA) is also enjoying immediate success at the collegiate level. Viele owns an on-base % of .557. He was hit by pitches five times last weekend, increasing his season total to 11 - needing just two more to rank among the top 10 in the program's single-season history.

HEAD COACH MARK O'BRIEN
Santa Clara University head baseball coach and Bay Area native Mark O'Brien, entered the year owning 218 career victories, just the third coach in SCU's 125-year baseball history to reach the 200-win milestone. O'Brien has served as an assistant at Stanford and Cal Poly SLO and played his collegiate baseball at San Jose State. He signed a multi-year contract extension at Santa Clara in 2008 after leading the Broncos to their best season in more than a decade. O'Brien's 2008 squad twice beat NCAA Champion Fresno State University en route to posting a 33-22 overall record. 2008 highlights included: 10 All-WCC selections, an All-America honoree and six players signing professional contracts.

O'BRIEN NOTES: 22 MLB Draft picks in eight seasons at Santa Clara... 26 future MLB players coached by O'Brien... 28 All-Americans... 9 Bronco All-Americans... 43 All-WCC Selections... 3rd coach in Santa Clara's 125-year baseball history to... reach 200+ wins... 3 College World Series... 3-straight top-40 recruiting classes at Cal Poly... 2 WCC Batting Champs... 1 WCC MVP... 1 WCC `Freshman of the Year'... 1 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American.

SANTA CLARA'S GEOFF KLEIN - WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The West Coast Conference named Santa Clara senior Geoff Klein its `Player of the Week' for March 8 through 14. The preseason All-America honoree and reigning WCC co-batting champ, Klein had 12 hits and eight RBI last week and was named to the all-tournament team at the Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament in Silicon Valley. Klein, who played both catcher and designated hitter, led Santa Clara to a pair of wins, going 12-for-21 (.571 BA) on the week with two homers and two doubles. His slugging percentage was .952 - he had 27 plate appearances and did not strikeout. His clutch ninth-inning double Saturday, led to the tying run in SCU's comeback victory over Air Force, 8-7, in extra innings. On Sunday, Klein hit a two-run homer (his second in as many days) and added a ninth-inning hit in SCU's 12-11 win over Southern Illinois. He raised his season batting average to .356. Klein has 15 RBI in 14 games.

ANOTHER THREAT IN SCU'S LINEUP
Freshman OF Pat Stover - drafted in the 17th-round by the Oakland A's in June - went 8-for-15 (.533 BA) with three RBI in SCU's series sweep over SJSU earlier in the month. The 6-foot, 4-inch rookie adds another serious threat to the heart of SCU's lineup, which already includes UT Tommy Medica and C Geoff Klein - two players that have already won WCC batting titles. More recently, Stover was named an all-tournament player the Jack Gifford Memorial tournament last week. Stover is slugging .593, with six extra-base hits and 12 RBI in 14 games.

RIVERS' SHUTOUT LEADS TO SWEEEP
Santa Clara's Saturday starter, senior RH Alex Rivers, threw a complete-game shutout to allow the Broncos a pivotal 4-0 victory over rival San Jose State March 6. The win gave SCU the weekend series and would lead to a three-game sweep. Rivers limited the Spartans to just three hits over the final six innings and struck out six while walking just two. Rivers - at the time - improved to 1-1 in three season starts and lowered his ERA to 3.43.

TWO BATTING CHAMPS IN LINEUP
Santa Clara catchers Geoff Klein and Tommy Medica have both won West Coast Conference batting titles - Klein doing so as a junior in 2009, hitting .379 with 21 doubles. Medica won the WCC batting crown during a phenomenal freshman season in 2007 when he hit .373 and earned Collegiate Baseball `Louisville Slugger' Freshman All-America honors.

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS
Santa Clara University baseball upperclassmen Tommy Medica and Geoff Klein were named honorable mention preseason All-America catchers by Ping!Baseball, the online publication announced today. Medica - who has fully recovered from a shoulder injury which kept him sidelined in 2009 - returns for his redshirt junior season as one of the nation's most accomplished collegiate catchers. The San Jose native and Bellarmine College Preparatory alumnus played for the USA National Team in 2007 following an All- America season as a true freshman. Klein took over the catching duties for Medica last season and turned in one of the best offensive seasons in Santa Clara's 125-year baseball history. Klein won the 2009 West Coast Conference batting crown, hitting .379 with 21 doubles. Klein owns a .343 career batting average, which ranks 8th all-time in the SCU record books. Another WCC standout was tabbed for 2010 preseason All-American honors. After winning the Triple Crown last year, Saint Mary's Troy Channing was tabbed a Louisville Slugger preseason second team All-American and was ranked No. 6 on the Rivals.com power rankings for third basemen.

WEST COAST CONFERENCE STANDINGS (3/19)
Portland 10-6 (.625)
San Diego 9-8 (.529)
San Francisco 9-8 (.529)
Gonzaga 8-7 (.533)
Santa Clara 7-7 (.500)
Pepperdine 6-9 (.400)
Saint Mary's 4-6 (.400)
Loyola Marymount 4-10 (.286)

OTHER WCC GAMES THIS WEEK
THU/FRI/SAT: Portland @ Utah Valley (3)
FRI/SAT/SUN: Gonzaga @ UC Irvine (3)
FRI/SAT(2)/SUN: Loyola Marymount @ Fresno State (4)
FRI/SAT/SUN: Pepperdine @ Stanford (3)
FRI/SAT/SUN: Rice @ San Diego (3)
FRI/SAT/SUN: San Francisco @ UC Riverside (3)
FRI/SAT/SUN: St. Mary's @ Tulane (3)

WCC LEAGUE LEADERS (3/15) Get Acrobat Reader