May 5, 2003
Santa Clara will travel to Sacramento State on Tuesday afternoon for its final road game and final midweek game of the 2003 regular season. The game time is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. from the newly renovated Hornet Field on the Sacramento State campus. Following that game the Broncos return home for a three-game weekend series with Gonzaga. The Broncos and Bulldogs begin the series with a 1 p.m. first pitch on Saturday. Sunday's first pitch is also slated for 1 p.m. while Monday's series finale is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. start. The odd series configuration is due to final exams at Gonzaga this week, much like the week when Santa Clara went to Spokane, Wash., earlier in the year. The three- game series with the Zags is the beginning of the season-long six-game homestand that will conclude the following weekend when Saint Mary's comes to Buck Shaw for the final regular season games of the year.
Last Year vs. Sacramento State
Santa Clara took both meetings between the two schools last season, winning at home by a 7-5 score in February before clobbering the Hornets by a 18-1 count in late April. The Broncos have won their last three meetings with Sacramento State and hold the all-time series advantage with a 15-14 record. Patrick McBride picked up the victory in game one of last year's series while John Redmond registered the win in game two. A.J. LaBarbera, Jack Headley and Jim Wallace each had three hits during the 18-1 onslaught with Wallace picking up four RBI and LaBarbera and Headley each picking up three.
Scouting The Hornets
Sacramento State enters the midweek contest with a 30-20 record, having won six of their last eight games. The Division I Independent team has two players batting over .400 (Mikela Olsen at .414 and Jesse Schmidt at .401), leading the Hornets to a potent .304 team batting average. The pitching staff has accumulated a 4.92 team ERA led by Marshall Plouffe who is 5-2 with a 3.21 ERA in 67 1/3 innings of work. CSUS will send staff workhorse Chris Kinsey to the mound on Tuesday against the Broncos, taking his 6-5 record and 4.46 ERA into the game. He has tossed 82 2/3 innings this year, nearly 15 more than the next closest Hornet. Olsen and Schmidt have combined for 30 home runs and 105 RBI between them, accounting for over half of the team's home runs (52) and just over 1/3 of the team's RBI (303).
Probable Starting Pitchers - at Sacramento State
Santa Clara: Scott Shapiro, RHP (1-1, 5.84 ERA)
Sacramento State: Chris Kinsey, RHP (6-5, 4.46 ERA)
Earlier This Year vs. Gonzaga
The Broncos dropped two of three games to the Bulldogs earlier this year in Spokane, Wash. on March 23 and 24. The series opener on Saturday was rained out, forcing the two squads to play a Sunday doubleheader. Gonzaga won game one by a 9-7 score before Joe Diefenderfer tossed a complete-game shutout in game two, leading the Broncos to a 10-0 victory. The Zags took game three on Monday by a score of 5-4 in 11 innings, handing the Broncos their third loss in five WCC games to that point in the year. Santa Clara and Gonzaga played a Saturday through Monday series schedule earlier in the year due to Final Exams for the Broncos at the end of the Winter Quarter.
Scouting The Bulldogs
Gonzaga enters the week with a 22-23-1 overall record and a 10-14 mark in league play. They have been eliminated from any chance at the WCC Postseason and can finish no better than third in the Coast Division as they are nine game back of Pepperdine for first and seven back of the Broncos for second with only six games to go. The Bulldogs are currently batting .294 as a team with a 4.13 team ERA. Gordon Corder and Danny Evans lead the way for the Zags with their .352 average, with Corder leading the way in the power numbers with his 16 doubles, 12 home runs and 49 RBI. Eric Dworkis leads the pitching staff with his 7-4 record and 2.49 ERA. He has struck out 76 batters and walked only 25 in 79 2/3 innings on the mound.
Probable Starting Pitchers - Gonzaga Series
Santa Clara: Matt Travis, LHP (5-7, 4.06 ERA)
Gonzaga: Ed Clelland, LHP (4-4, 3.21 ERA)
Santa Clara: Kellan McConnell, RHP (2-4, 3.89 ERA)
Gonzaga: Eric Dworkis, RHP (7-4, 2.49 ERA)
Santa Clara: John Redmond, LHP (5-4, 6.87 ERA)
Gonzaga: Matt Reding, LHP (2-0, 3.86 ERA)
Santa Clara vs. Pepperdine - Series Recap
The Broncos and Waves met in a showdown of the top two teams in the West Coast Conference and arguably the two hottest teams on the West Coast. The Broncos entered the weekend series with Pepperdine having posted a 13-3 record during the month of April while the Waves posted a 14-2 mark during that same time span. Pepperdine took game one by a 9-5 score in a nine-inning contest that spanned two days. The game was suspended in the eighth inning due to rain and was made up prior to Saturday's game two. In game two on Saturday the Waves again defeated the Broncos, this time capitalizing on four SCU errors for six unearned runs in their 6-1 victory. Santa Clara rallied in game three on Sunday for a 7-4 victory as Scott Dierks and Jim Wallace each connected on two-run home runs in the seventh inning to propel the Broncos to the win. SCU came away from the series down two games with only six WCC games remaining on their schedule.
Head Coach Mark O'Brien
Santa Clara enters the 2003 season under the direction of second-year head coach Mark O'Brien. A graduate of San Jose State, O'Brien played under longtime Spartan coach Sam Piraro during his time on the SJSU campus. During his first season at the helm of the Bronco Baseball program, O'Brien led them to a 25-30 overall record and a 15-14 mark in the West Coast Conference. Included in his 25 wins during the 2002 season were victories over No. 1 Stanford and No. 13 Fresno State. He also guided the Broncos to series sweeps over Pepperdine and San Francisco. Under his tutelage senior Joey Gomes earned First Team All-America, All-West Region and All-WCC honors in 2002 after leading the nation in doubles. He also had two honorable mention All-WCC performers in Matt Travis and Jim Wallace. O'Brien picked up the 50th win of his career against his former team and then No. 7 Stanford, with the Broncos' 2-0 victory at Sunken Diamond on April 29. The win not only marked the historic 50th in his career but gave O'Brien the second win in his career over his former team. He guided the Broncos to a victory over then No. 1 Stanford on February 23, 2002. The win was only the second in the last 27 tries for the Broncos against Stanford and the first at Sunken Diamond for SCU since the 1995 season.
The Long Ball
Santa Clara leads the West Coast Conference in home runs hit thus far in 2003, posting 50 big flies in 50 games. The next closest team in the league is San Diego who has 35 home runs in 53 games. Pepperdine has 32 on the season, followed by Gonzaga in fourth place with their 31 home runs. In WCC only play, SCU has connected on 33 home runs in only 24 games while allowing only 11. Scott Dierks has 14 home runs in league play, which to put in perspective, as a team Gonzaga only has 14, Portland has only 11 and Saint Mary's has only eight in league play. 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.
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 17-7 record and a minuscule 3.39 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 3.99 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 10.7 hits in league play which has equated to an average of 6.3 runs per game. The Broncos are batting .307 as a team in league play with 33 home runs and 142 RBI in only 24 contests.
All-America Candidate - Scott Dierks
Senior Scott Dierks is having himself an incredible year from the leadoff spot in the batting order. Thus far in 2003 Dierks is batting .426 with 18 home runs, 37 RBI, 42 runs scored, 122 total bases, a slugging percentage of .897 and an on base percentage of .529. His batting average currently ranks as the second-highest single season mark in SCU history while his 18 home runs is also the second highest single season total in program history. Gene Delyon set the single-season home run mark in 1974 with his 19 home runs while Troy Buckley set the school and WCC single season batting mark with his .442 average in 1988. Dierks is currently averaging one home run for every 7.56 at-bats, posting the 18 blasts in only 136 at-bats. His home run average in league play is even more impressive, connecting on 14 home runs in only 91 at-bats, good for one home run in every 6.50 at-bats. Of his 18 home runs in 2003, eight have come as leadoff home runs including one to leadoff the 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 fifth and his home run average ranking sixth in the country.
Freshmen Jason Matteucci and Michael Thompson are the only two Santa Clara players to have started in all 50 games for the Broncos this season. Both have earned their keep as Matteucci is the team leader in hits with 65 to go along with his .314 average, 10 doubles and 24 RBI, while Thompson has 10 doubles, five home runs and 31 RBI to go along with his .256 average. Both are Freshman All-America Candidates alongside closer Patrick Overholt
Feasting on WCC Pitching
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 .263 following his four-hit weekend. His .360 average in league play ranks him 12th in the league and second on the team, trailing only Scott Dierks who leads the conference with his .462 mark in league action.
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 57 appearances on the year, throwing 80 2/3 innings. They have combined for five wins and 11 saves on the season to go along with their 2.45 ERA. Opponents are batting at a .232 clip and have struck out 70 times against the duo. Overholt has nine saves this season, the most ever for a freshman on the Mission Campus and second on the all-time single season list. He also already ranks him in a tie for fifth all-time in career saves with those nine this season. Rea has two saves this season which move his career total to seven, ranking him in a tie for eight on the all-time saves list at SCU.
WCC Divisional Updates
The Broncos currently trail Pepperdine by two games in the Coast Division of the WCC with six games to go. Santa Clara has their remaining league games at home while the Waves will spend the next two weekends on the road at Saint Mary's then at Gonzaga. In the other half, the Toreros from San Diego and the Dons from San Francisco are tied atop the West Division standings with their 15-12 marks. Both have only three games remaining in league play with the Dons having to play at LMU and the Torerors having to play at Portland. The winners of each division will meet in a three-game series to determine the league champion which will be played at the site of the school with the better league record at the end of the regular season.
Next Week: Broncos Conclude Regular Season with Home Series against SMC
Santa Clara will play its final regular season home games next weekend as they welcome in Saint Mary's College for a three-game series at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Broncos and Gaels will begin the series Friday night at 6 p.m. before playing the Saturday and Sunday games at 1 p.m.