June 12, 2008
The Broncos have compiled their best season in the last 11 years and the most successful under the direction of seventh year head coach Mark O'Brien. Santa Clara compiled its most wins in a single season, 33, since the 2003 season when SCU tallied 31 victories. SCU also had its largest group of players since 1996 honored by the West Coast Conference and continued its tradition of freshman All-Americans. The Broncos ended the season with a 33-22 overall record (SCU is 33-21 (.600) overall and finished third in the WCC with a record of 13-8.
Freshman Phenom On The Mound
Rookie pitcher Thain Simon became the most decorated of the Broncos this season after earning two All-America honors (Louisville Slugger and NCBWA), All-Ping!Baseball first team honors and WCC Freshman of the Year accolades. Simon was the first Bronco since 2000 to be named the league's top freshman and with that was named to the WCC's All-Freshman team. He finished the year with a 2.59 ERA and a 9-2 record.
Simon was joined by nine other Broncos who earned all-conference honors this season, five of which were unanimous selections. Brady Fuerst, Nate Garcia, Jon Karcich, Evan LeBlanc and Tommy Medica were first team All-WCC unanimous selections, while Ryan Conan, Nathan Faulkner, Matt Long and Mark Willinsky earned honorable mention.
SCU On Top In The WCC
Although they finished third in the conference standings, the Broncos were a force to be reckoned with during the conference season. At the end of it all, Santa Clara finished the year leading the WCC in batting, slugging PCT, hits, home runs and had the fewest batters strikeout. Junior LeBlanc lead all batters in hits. Even in league games only the Broncos led the conference in batting, slugging percentage, hits, triples, home runs, RBIs and had the fewest batters strikeout. Sophomore Medica lead the group in triples, while Garcia tossed the most complete games and tied for first in shutouts.
Broncos In The MLB Draft
Santa Clara had four student-athletes selected in the 2008 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Righthanded closer Willinsky was chosen in the 15th round (458 overall) by the Milwaukee Brewers, while righty Justin Kuehn was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the 19th round (570 overall). Outfielders LeBlanc and Long were both selected in the 23rd round. LeBlanc (704 overall) was chosen by the New York Mets, while Long (708 overall) was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Medica Goes Streaking
Sophomore Medica finished the year riding a career-high and team-best 29 game hitting streak and will look to continue it well into the 2009 season. Of those 29 games, the catcher produces 27 multi-hit performances. The streak began on April 5 against Portland and includes 25 runs, four home run, six doubles, two triples and 26 RBIs.
One To Go!
Head coach O'Brien will head into the 2009 season just one win away from his career 200th (199-190). When O'Brien reaches the mark, he will join John Oldham and Sal Taormina as the only Bronco baseball head coaches earn 200 wins.
Broncos' Hit Parade
The Broncos are one the top teams in the nation in hits and doubles per game. SCU is ranked No. 61 with 642 hits for the season, while being ranked No. 37 overall, averaging 2.25 doubles per outing. The Broncos batting average of .325 ranks No. 19 in the nation.
SCU On The Weekends
The Broncos had much success in the weekend series this season. Santa Clara won 8 of the 11 weekend series that included sweeps of Saint Mary's and Hawaii-Hilo. In overall opponent season series, the Broncos went 10-4-2.
Most Wins For The Skipper
With the win on Friday, May 16 against Pepperdine, the Broncos climbed to the 33-win plateau, the most wins for head coach O'Brien during his seven season and the most victories for the club since 1997.
Record Books Update
No. 5 - batting Avg. (.355)
tied No. 6 - Hit By Pitch (24)
tied No. 8 - Slugging PCT (.504)
Single Season List
tied No. 8 - Hit By Pitch (13 in 2007)
No. 7 - Batting Avg. (.343) Single Season List
No. 7 - Hits (86 in 2008)
Single Season List
tied No. 8 - Triples (5 in 2008)
tied No. 8 - Sac Bunts (11 in 2007)
Single Season List
tied No. 4 - Sac Flies (7 in 2008)
No. 4 - Saves (15)
No. 6 - Saves (13)
No. 8 - Relief Appearances (69)
Grand Slams All Around
Fuerst became the newest member of the Broncos Grand Slam Club. He rocketed in the ninth inning on Apr. 11against Gonzaga to give the Broncos their 12 runs. Junior LeBlanc also tallied his first collegiate grand slam for the Broncos this season. He hit his on the road against San Jose State on Mar. 1. Senior Gabe Alcantar also produced a grand slam in the eight-run third inning against Pacific on Apr. 2. They are three of four Broncos on the 2008 roster to have reach the feat. Last season, 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.
On The National Stage
As of June 9, the Broncos remain mentioned in all 25 team categories. The Broncos top 100 rankings as of June 9 are:
Individually, eight different batters and four different pitchers are ranked in the top 500. The Broncos highest rankings come to Matt Long, who is No. 56 in triples and No. 78 in triples per game. Tommy Medica is the 79th toughest batter in the nation to strike out and Ryan Conan is No. 21 in sac flies. Mark Willinsky is ranked No. 98 in saves.
The Broncos took Saint Mary's to extra innings this weekend and came out on top with a 9-8 victory. Santa Clara went 3-1 in extra innings.
Nine different Broncos have registered home runs thus far this season for Santa Clara. Shortstop Jon Karcich leads the group with 12 home runs. He notched his 12th against Pepperdine (May 16). Matt Long is second on the team with 11 homers. The list is as follows:
Broncos Have Three Earn WCC Player Of The Week
Outfielder LeBlanc earned the season's first West Coast Conference Player of the Week honor after playing a crucial role in the Broncos' opening weekend, helping SCU to a 3-0 record. Simon followed with co-pitcher of the week accolades after helping the Broncos to the series win over then-No. 11 Cal and the eventual WCC champion Toreros of San Diego. For that same week, Simon earned Ping!Baseball spotlight honors and College Baseball Foundation's National All-Star Lineup of the Week. Garcia picked up the third and fourth weekly honors for the Broncos this season as he was named Pitcher of the Week twice for his solid efforts in WCC action. The first honor came after he tossed his first collegiate shutout against San Francisco on April 18 in which he scattered four hits in nine innings and struck out nine batters. The second was after he led the Broncos to a Friday night triumph over Pepperdine in the series opener.
Conan's Homer Garners Player Of The Game Honors
He led the 2007 Broncos in home runs (8), but it wasn't until late this season that the monkey got off Conan's back as he homered against Gonzaga on the road. Yet, it was his second bomb of the season that gave the senior captain some bragging rights. The San Jose native was Santa Clara's hero on April 28 as he launched one over the left center field wall at Schott Stadium to give the Broncos a 10-9 win over Bay Area rival, No. 3 Stanford. For his performance, which was broadcasted nationally on CBS College Sports, he was named Sirius Satellite Radio's Player of the Game. Long Hits
For The Cycle
Outfielder Long became the first Bronco this season, and the only current Bronco, to hit for the cycle. He reached the feat on Apr. 26 against Hawaii-Hilo. It had been 14 years since a Bronco hit for the cycle. It was two-time All-American Mike Frank '97, who reached the feat on April 30, 1994 against USF. Long started off with a single in the first inning and then registered a home run in the second inning. In the fourth inning, he sent a triple down the right field line and then doubled in the seventh. For his performance, he earned recognition from the College Baseball Foundation as he was named to the Weekly All-Star Lineup. Long was one of two on the list to hit for the cycle this weekend.
Lights! Camera! Action!
Santa Clara had two of its regular season non-conference games televised nationally on CBS College Sports. Both contests were against Bay Area rival Stanford. The Broncos and Cardinals split the meetings as Stanford won on April 21 (13-6) and SCU was victorious on April 28 (10-9). Both games were held at Stephen Schott Stadium.
Broncos Go 2-2 At Aztec Invite
Santa Clara finished in the middle of the pack at the 2008 Aztec Invitational. The Broncos were one of four teams to post a 2-2 record. Loyola Marymount, the only team SCU did not face in the tournament, won the crown with a 3-1 record. The Broncos upset then-No. 11 San Diego in non-conference action and host San Diego State, who was receiving votes in the polls at the time.
Three Take All-Tournament Honors
Seniors Conan and Lombard, along with sophomore Karcich were named to the 2008 Aztec Invitational All-Tournament Team. Conan shares the first base honors with LMU's A.J. LaMonda, who was also named MVP. Conan went 9-for-19 on the weekend with five runs and three RBIs. Conan was perfect in the field with two assists, 31 putouts was involved in two key double plays. Karcich earned the accolades after a batting a team-best .538 in four games. The shortstop registered two runs, five RBIs and one double on the weekend. He also dished out nine assists and was instrumental in two key double plays. Lombard received the honor as a relief pitcher. He finished the weekend with a 0.00 ERA after three appearances and two saves. Lombard pitched 5.0 innings and struck out four batters. He helped the Broncos to wins over then-No. 11 San Diego and San Diego State.
Bronco Baseball Wins 2008 Rivalry Series
The baseball team increased its record in the annual Rivalry Series to 4-2 last week as the Broncos went 2-1 against the Spartans.
Two Broncos Inducted Into Santa Clara's Athletic Hall Of Fame
The celebrated athletic tradition of Santa Clara University will came alive on Thursday, May 15 with the induction of seven deserving members into the institution's Athletic Hall of Fame. Two of those inductees were former Bronco baseball stars Mike Frank '97 and Mike Macfarlane '85. Frank (Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS) was a two-time All-American for the Broncos playing from 1994-97 for coach John Oldham. He played an integral role of the last Santa Clara squads to reach the NCAA Tournament. A four-time All-West Coast Conference first team selection and two-time All-American ('94 and '97), Frank helped lead the Broncos to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1994, '95 and '97. He followed up his WCC Freshman of the Year honors in 1997 as he was named WCC Player of the Year after putting together one of the most outstanding offensive seasons in league history, batting .405 with an SCU single-season record 98 hits, 64 runs scored, 12 home runs, 25 doubles, 80 RBIs and an SCU single-season record 169 total bases. Frank is currently SCU's all-time career leader in at-bats (902), runs (202), hits (301), doubles (60), total bases (455) and extra-base hits (96). Macfarlane (Stockton, Calif./Lincoln HS) was an offensive and defensive threat for the Broncos during his three seasons on the Mission Campus. A member of the 1983-85 squads, he helped Santa Clara to finishes in the upper halves of the Northern California Baseball Association and the WCC. An All-NCBA honorable mention as a freshman and a second team All-WCC selection as a junior, MacFarlane helped the Broncos set a record for most homers in a single season (62) in 1984 as he led the Broncos in home runs (13). He also led the team in doubles (20) that season. He followed up in his junior campaign with a team-best .361 batting average and 16 doubles. In 1986, MacFarlane was drafted by the Kansas City Royals and went on to play for the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics organizations. MacFarlane ranks in four career categories and has six single season records. He finished his career ranked ninth all-time hitting .337, seventh overall in doubles (47), fifth in home runs (28) and eighth in total bases (323).
2008 Summer Ball
With the summer already here, 17 Santa Clara baseball stars will highlight summer leagues ranging from the New England coast all the way to the Great White North, and Broncos fans can follow the adventures of SCU ballplayers right here on SantaClaraBroncos.com.
2008 Broncos Summer League Assignments
Nate Garcia - Cape Cod Baseball League - Cotuit Kettlers
Steve Kalush - Cape Cod Baseball League - Harwich Mariners
Matt Renner - West Coast Collegiate League - Spokane River Hawks
Alex Rivers - Northwoods League - Madison Mallards
Thain Simon - Team Canada
Joe Supple - West Coast Collegiate League - Bend Elks
Jason Westerberg - California Collegiate League - S.F. Seals
David Abraham - TBA
Thomas Dore, Jr. - Western Major Baseball League - Palo Alto Oaks
James Heintz - Arizona Collegiate League - Reds
Jon Karcich - Northwoods League - Green Bay Bullfrogs
Geoff Klein - Northwoods League - Wisconsin Woodchucks
Evan LeBlanc - Northwoods League - Madison Mallards
Matt Long - Maxim Yankees
Tommy Medica - Team USA
Ian O'Connor - California Collegiate League - SLO Blues
Patrick Terry - Western Major Baseball League - Regina Red Sox
Kyle Van Dusen - TBA
Curtis Wagner - Hawaii Collegiate League - TBA