Bronco Baseball Hosts Pilots In WCC Home Opener

April 3, 2008

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara baseball team hosts the University of Portland in their West Coast Conference home opener. The three game series begins on Friday, April 4 with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. The Broncos and Pilots will then meet again on Saturday at 6 p.m., and conclude the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. All games will be held at Stephen Schott Stadium.

On Air
Every live moment of home Santa Clara baseball games will be covered live via the official athletic website at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. Along with live audio broadcasts featuring play-by-play from Will Peregrine, a live GameTracker with statistical and play-by-play coverage will be available to fans.

On The Season
The Broncos own a 16-9 record going into WCC play this weekend. SCU opened the season with a five-game win streak, defeating Utah Valley, Kansas State, Pacific and San Jose State (Feb. 22-Feb. 29). The Broncos will ride a four game streak into the weekend and have won their last five of six contests.

Offensively, Evan LeBlanc leads the Broncos hitting .377 with 22 runs, nine doubles, 19 RBIs and three home runs. Geoff Klein is right behind him batting .376 with 15 runs, eight doubles, three homers and 23 RBIs. On the mound Thain Simon leads the Broncos with a 6-0 record in 12 appearances, all in relief. Rivers has also compiled 3 saves thus far for the Broncos in four relief appearances. Steve Kalush, who earned the win against Pacific, leads the Broncos in batters struck out with a tally of 35 in 23.2 innings of work.

The 2008 campaign begins three weeks later and will last for just 13 weeks (instead of 16 weeks as in years past). The Broncos will play their typical 56 game schedule during that time with 32 of those games being held in the friendly and comfortable confines of Stephen Schott Stadium.

Last Time Out
The Santa Clara baseball pushed its win streak to four games with an 11-3 victory over the University of the Pacific Wednesday night at Schott Stadium. The Broncos are now 16-9 on the season and 2-0 in the four single game series against the Tigers. Third baseman Gabe Alcantar was 3-for-3, tallying his fourth home run of the season and driving in four runs. Shortstop Jon Karcich posted three RBIs and his fourth homer of the season as well. SCU's pitching staff combined for 13 strikeouts compared to Pacific's four. Sophomore Kalush, the first of four relief pitchers, earned the win for Santa Clara. He tossed two no-hit innings and struck out four Tigers. Santa Clara out-hit Pacific 14 to 5.

Simon Earns A Triplet Of Weekly Honors
Freshman righty Simon earned Co-West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week honors after a successful week on the mound. An El Dorado Hills native, Simon earned a win against then-No. 11 Cal and posted two saves against then-No. 14 San Diego. For the week, he pitched six innings, striking out 10 of 18 batters and allowed no runs and just one hit.

Simon also received props from Ping! Baseball as he was named one of four spotlight players of the week and was dubbed "one of the best young pitchers in West." Simon's final weekly honor was announced Wednesday morning as he was named to the College Baseball Foundation's National All-Star Lineup of the Week.

On the season, Simon owns a 0.90 ERA and a 6-0 record. In 20.0 innings of work, he's struck out 27 batters and allowed only four runs. He is the second Bronco to receive weekly honors for the WCC this season as LeBlanc was named Player of the Week for his performance on opening weekend.

SLAM-tastic!
LeBlanc and Alcantar have both tallied their first collegiate grand slams for the Broncos this season. Alcantar's came in the eight-run third inning against Pacific on Wednesday, while LeBlanc hit his on the road against San Jose State on Mar. 1.

They are two of three active Broncos to have produced the feat. Last season, Ryan Conan posted his first grand slam in the ninth inning of the rubber game against USF. The four runs gave the Broncos the 10-6 win.

More To Enter Record Books
Mark Willinsky officially entered the career saves list after his performance Monday night against Washington State. The redshirt sophomore tallied nine saves as a freshman and now owns a record of 10, which ties him with Mike Crudale (1996-99) for No. 7.

Three more Broncos are waiting in the wings. Matt Wickswat is 42 strikes shy of entering the top-10 all-time and eight wins away from the career victories list. Jeff Lombard, who is already in the career saves and relief appearances lists, is seven appearances shy of entering that career list. Lastly, Conan, who has been hit by a pitch 17 times, is four shy of joining assistant coach Shawn Epidendio in that all-time list.

On The National Stage
The first set of national rankings was released last week and the Broncos were mentioned in all 25 categories. The Broncos top 50 rankings this week are:

Doubles Per Gm - No. 5 Doubles - No. 18 Sac Flies - No. 44

Individually, nine different batters and three different pitchers are ranked in the top 500. The Broncos highest rankings come to LeBlanc with is 89th in hits, Klein who is the 91st toughest batter to strike out, Conan who is ranked 15th in the nation in sac flies, Rivers who is 72nd overall in saves and 34th overall in walks allowed per nine innings.

Bronco Balloting
SCU is back to receiving votes this week as it posted a successful week against ranked opponents. The Broncos are receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association's Top 25 as well as the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.

Scouting Portland
The Pilots enter the weekend with a 14-15 overall record. Portland opened WCC play being swept by Loyola Marymount. In a midweek contest against Washington, the Pilots fell 17-6. Billy Kraus homered for Portland, while going 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. The Pilots were also edged by Oregon State, 5-4, in a 13-inning game Monday night.

On the season, Chase Powell leads Portland's offense batting .318 with 14 runs, seven doubles and 12 RBIs. Riley Henricks is right behind him hitting .311 with 15 runs, 10 doubles and 14 RBIs.

The Broncos will face David Gruener, Mark Triolo and Ari Ronick on the mound this weekend. Gruener is 1-3 on the season with a 3.27 ERA. Triolo is 4-1 overall with a 2.63 ERA and has struck out a team-best 33 batters. Ronick will pitch the third game on Sunday and is 2-3 on the season with a 2.37 ERA.

Last Time Out vs. Portland
The Broncos and Pilots last spring in Portland with SCU winning the series 2-1. Alex Rivers and Donald Brandt picked up with wins on Friday and Sunday.

All-Time vs. Portland
Friday's contest is the 56th meeting of the two programs in a series that dates back to the 1956 season. SCU leads the all-time series 37-18-0.

On Deck
The Broncos return to the road for a midweek contest against the Golden Bears of California. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in Berkeley. Santa Clara then travels to Gonzaga for the second weekend of WCC play. First pitch of the three game series is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 11. The Bulldogs and Broncos continue action on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.