Baseball Plays Two Ranked Teams on Road This Week

Baseball Plays Two Ranked Teams on Road This Week

April 28, 2003

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This Week
Santa Clara will take on No. 7 Stanford in a midweek game at Sunken Diamond before traveling to Malibu, Calif., for a big three-game West Coast Conference series with No. 27 Pepperdine. The Broncos and Waves enter the weekend tilt with the two best records in the league with Pepperdine's conference mark at 17-4 and Santa Clara's at 16-5. Each team went 11-1 in interdivisional play with the Broncos' only loss coming at home to San Diego and the Waves' only loss coming at home against Portland. With only nine WCC contests remaining SCU has six at home and three on the road while Pepperdine has only three at home and six on the road.

Earlier This Year vs. Stanford
The Cardinal have handed the Broncos three losses in 2003, the first two coming on the opening weekend with Stanford taking the home-and-home series by scores of 7-2 and 5-0. Earlier this month in Buck Shaw Stadium, the Cardinal defeated SCU by a score of 17-8, marking one of only three losses in 15 games during the month of April for the Broncos.

Scouting The Cardinal
No. 7 Stanford enters the week with a 28-13 overall record, having won 10 of their last 13 games. Carlos Quentin has a .430 batting average with 21 doubles, six home runs and 35 RBI. Ryan Garko is batting .373 with 14 doubles, 10 home runs and a team leading 52 RBI. The Cardinal are batting .316 as a team while their pitching staff has amassed a 4.31 team ERA, two full runs better than their opponents on the season. Mark Romanczuk is 8-0 on the year with a 3.88 ERA to lead the team while John Hudgins is 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA and four complete games on the year.

Earlier This Year vs. Pepperdine
The Broncos took two out of three contests from the Waves in Buck Shaw Stadium on March 28-30, beginning a streak that has seen Santa Clara go 14-4 since the beginning of that series. Santa Clara took game one by a 10-2 score behind complete game outing from Matt Travis. He allowed only two runs on seven hit while striking out four. Scott Dierks went 3-for-3 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored in the opener. Santa Clara took game two by a score of 4-3 in 10 innings as Patrick Overholt picked up the win after throwing 2 2/3 innings of relief in which he allowed only one run on five hits. Scott Shapiro's walk-off solo home run in the 10th inning gave SCU the victory. Pepperdine won Sunday's series finale by a 8-2 score behind seven strong innings from Jacob Barrack. Steve Kleen and Kea Kometani each threw one inning of scoreless ball in relief to secure the victory.

Scouting The Waves
Pepperdine enters the week with a 28-16 overall record and a 17-4 mark in league play. They will take on Cal State Northridge on Tuesday in a midweek game in Malibu. Since they dropped the first two games of the series at Santa Clara, Pepperdine has won 14 of its last 16 games, including a stretch in which they won nine straight. Their .291 team batting average 3.74 team ERA and .976 team fielding percentage are three big reasons for the Waves' success this year. Chris Kelly leads the team in nearly every offensive category, batting .347 with 15 home runs, 15 doubles, 42 RBI and 35 runs scored. On the mound the Pepperdine starting rotation of Greg Ramirez, Brandon Boesch and Jacob Barrack have a combined for a 19-7 record with a 2.61 ERA. In league play alone they are 14-2 with 2.56 ERA.

Santa Clara vs. Loyola Marymount - Series Recap
For the second straight weekend, Santa Clara swept a series from a WCC West Division opponent, this time taking three games from Loyola Marymount over the weekend at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Broncos took game one by a 6-4 score, held on for a 3-2 win in game two and rallied for a 5-4 victory in the series finale. Matt Travis picked up the win and Patrick Overholt recorded his seventh save of the year in game one where A.J. LaBarbera was the offensive hero with his 4-for-4 performance that included two runs scored and two RBI. Kellan McConnell picked up the win in game two that saw Anthony Rea record his second save of the year as RBI's from Scott Dierks, Jack Headley and Michael Lange provided the offense. Michael Thompson and Jim Wallace provided the heroics in game three when the Broncos rallied for a 5-4 come-from-behind victory. Thompson's two-out, two-run home run in the eighth inning tied the game at four, setting the stage for Wallace's RBI single in the ninth for the one run victory. Dierks connected on his 17th home run of the season in the first, his eighth leadoff homerun this season, and scored three time in the victory. Overholt picked up the win after shutting the Lions down in the top half of the ninth.

Skipper Mark O'Brien is looking for win No. 50 this week.

Looking for 50
Skipper Mark O'Brien enters the week needing only one victory to become only the eighth coach in the 120 years of Bronco baseball to reach 50 wins in a career. Reaching the milestone in only his second year would match the marks set by former skippers Sal Taormina, Jerry McClain and John Oldham. With Sunday's 5-4 win over LMU last weekend, O'Brien assured himself of a second-straight winning season in conference play, becoming the first coach in Santa Clara baseball history to register two conseuctive winning seasons in league play in their first two years on the Mission Campus.

The Long Ball
Santa Clara leads the West Coast Conference in home runs hit thus far in 2003, posting 47 big flies in 46 games. The next closest team in the league is San Diego who has 32 home runs in 50 games. Gonzaga and Pepperdine each have 31 home runs on the year. In WCC only play, SCU has connected on 30 home runs in only 21 games while allowing only 10. Scott Dierks has 13 home runs in league play, two more than Saint Mary's and Portland have combined. The Broncos have a shot to break the all-time single season team mark for home runs in Santa Clara history which was set in 1984 when that team belted 62 home runs in 60 games.

Best of the West in April
Santa Clara and Pepperdine enter the week as two of the hottest teams on the West Coast. The Waves have registered 13-2 record thus far in the month of April whereas the Broncos have posted a 12-3 record during that same time span. Their combined record of 25-5 in the Month of April is the best record by any two teams from any conference on the West Coast. Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State from the Big West have gone a combined 25-6 in April while USC and Arizona State from the Pac-10 have combined for an 18-6 mark. UNLV and San Diego State from the Mountain West have gone a combined 21-9 record during April while Rice and Nevada from the WAC have gone 21-10.

WCC Pitching Numbers Continue to Drop
Pitching coach Tom Myers and the SCU pitching staff are having a remarkable year in league play, posting a 16-5 record and a minuscule 3.21 team ERA. Joe Diefenderfer leads the way with his 5-0 record and 1.40 ERA, followed closely by John Redmond who is 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA.

WCC Batting Numbers Continue to Rise
Hitting Coach Mike Oakland has the Broncos swinging the bats with confidence and authority as they watch their numbers in league play continue to rise. SCU is averaging 10.8 hits in league play which has equated to an average of 6.6 runs per game. The Broncos are batting .311 as a team in league play with 30 home runs and 129 RBI in only 21 contests.

Scott Dierks has had plenty of reasons to smile this season, at least 17 of them. (Jedlovec Photo)

Dierks Gaining National Attention
Senior Scott Dierks is having himself an incredible year from the leadoff spot in the batting order. Thus far in 2003 Dierks is batting .447 with 17 home runs, 35 RBI, 37 runs scored, 116 total bases, a slugging percentage of .943 and an on base percentage of .536. His batting average currently ranks as the highest single season mark in SCU history while his 17 home runs is currently the second highest total in program history. Gene Delyon set the single-season home run mark in 1974 with his 19 home runs. Dierks is currently averaging one home run for every 7.23 at-bats, posting the 17 blasts in only 123 at-bats. His home run average in league play is even more impressive, connecting on 13 home runs in only 81 at-bats, good for one home run in every 6.23 at-bats. Of his 17 home runs in 2003, eight have come as leadoff home runs including one to leadoff Sunday's 5-4 win over LMU. His batting average and home runs per game both rank among the national leaders with his batting average currently ranking seventh and his home run average ranking sixth in the country.

Michael Thompson has come up big for the Broncos on each of the last two Sundays. (Jedlovec Photo)

Everyday Freshmen
Freshmen Jason Matteucci and Michael Thompson are the only two Santa Clara players to have started in all 46 games for the Broncos this season. Both have earned their keep as Matteucci is the team leader in hits with 58 to go along with his .304 average, 10 doubles and 23 RBI, while Thompson has 10 doubles, five home runs and 30 RBI to go along with his .267 average. In the last two Sunday league games, Thompson has hit a three-run home run at Portland and a two-run home run against LMU that tied the game, both of which the Broncos eventually won to complete the sweeps. Matteucci's eight stolen bases is second on the team, his 28 runs scored is third on the team while his 71 total bases ranks him fifth.

Be Like Mike
Freshman Michael Lange has turned his season around since WCC play has started. Prior to league play he was batting .155, but since league play he has watched his season average rise to a season-high of .262. His .359 average in league play ranks second on the team, trailing only Scott Dierks who leads the conference.

Save the Best For Last
Redshirt sophomore Anthony Rea and freshman Patrick Overholt have proven to be two of the most dominating pitchers on a solid Santa Clara pitching staff. The two have combined for 52 appearances on the year, throwing 72 2/3 innings. They have combined for four wins and nine saves on the season to go along with their 2.60 ERA. Opponents are batting at a .224 clip and have struck out 62 times against the duo. Both have seven career saves, all of which have come this season for Overholt, ranking them seventh in career saves in Bronco baseball history.

Bring on the Righties...If it is During the Day
After last weekend's sweep of Loyola Marymount, the Broncos are now out-scoring their opponents on the season by a 269-255 margin. In league play Santa Clara has out-scored its opponents by 48 runs, 138-90. The Broncos are 22-14 on the year against right handed starting pitchers and are 22-17 during day games. In WCC action only that trend is further exemplified with SCU holding a 14-4 record during day games and a 15-3 record against right handed starting pitchers.

Next Week: Broncos Play at Sac State, Host Gonzaga for Three Games
Santa Clara will play its final midweek game of the year on Tuesday when it travels to Sacramento, Calif., for a 2:30 p.m. game with Sacramento State. The Broncos will return to Buck Shaw for a three-game series with Gonzaga beginning Saturday, May 10th at 1 p.m. Sunday's game is also scheduled for 1 p.m. while Monday's series finale is slated for a 2:30 p.m. first pitch. The schedule is abnormal due to final exam schedules at Gonzaga.

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