May 9, 2008

Bronco Baseball Heads Into Final Stretch

May 9, 2008

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - It has been a season of history in the making. The Santa Clara baseball team has ridden the wave of success through its 2008 campaign and heads into its final two weekends of West Coast Conference action with their goals insight.

"If the season ended today, we'd all feel unfulfilled," said head coach Mark O'Brien. "We are not where we want to be yet. The postseason is in reach for us and we can obtain it if we play up to our capabilities."

Santa Clara hosts Saint Mary's on May 9-11 and Pepperdine on May 16-18 to close out the year. The Broncos sit in third place in the WCC standings and just a half a game behind the Waves.

"Saint Mary's is our biggest weekend," said O'Brien. "They are an underrated program and we need to play our `A' game in each game this weekend. Anything less will not get us the outcome we need and want."

SCU is in the midst of its best season to date under the direction of O'Brien. The Broncos are currently 29-18 overall and opened the season with a 7-1 record going into one of its biggest weekends of the non-conference schedule. The Aztec Invitational hosted by San Diego State University pinned Santa Clara against national powerhouses SDSU, Oklahoma State, two-time National Champions Oregon State and San Diego. The Broncos jumped to 2-0 start at the tournament defeating both San Diego programs. Despite the losses to the Cowboys and Beavers, SCU began to receive national attention in the polls. The team began receiving votes from USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll and Rivals.com.

The Broncos then hit a bump in the road as they lost five of six contests in the middle of March that included a sweep by the Aggies of UC Davis and a double-header split with Cal Poly.

Yet, Santa Clara rebounded to upset then-No. 11 California in non-conference play and then-No. 14 San Diego in the opening weekend of conference play.

"We came out of that bump in the road really strong," said O'Brien. "It really showed the character of these athletes, this team and this Bronco program. That is what is going to get you by; the attitude and character of your team."

The Broncos have continued to push ahead, despite the back and forth rhythm of game outcomes, and produced a season-best six game win streak that included a 10-9 upset over Bay Area rival, then-No. 3 Stanford.

As the team heads into the final stretch, it is clear what will make or break this record season.

"We have to focused and concentrate on the task at hand," said O'Brien. "We have to be unselfish and play good team baseball to get where we need to be and most importantly we need to understand that it's not going to be easy. We don't want this to be just handed to us, we want to earn it."