April 10, 2006
SPOKANE, Wash. - Two days after using a ninth-inning comeback to steal a victory from Gonzaga, the Santa Clara Broncos almost had the favor returned to them as they held off a furious Bulldog rally Monday afternoon to capture the series with an 8-7 victory at Spokane Falls Community College.
Santa Clara (20-14, 3-3 WCC) got eight runs in a fourth inning which saw the team send 12 batters to the plate. That total ended up being just enough to even SCU's WCC record and get the squad to within a game of the conference lead. Gonzaga (22-12, 4-2 WCC) falls into a first-place tie with San Francisco and San Diego.
The Broncos will now return home to face the Pepperdine Waves (21-15, 2-4 WCC) in a Thursday-Saturday series at Stephen Schott Stadium. Both Thursday's series opener and Friday's contest will begin at 7 p.m. while Saturday's finale will get underway at 1 p.m. Tickets are available by calling (408) 554-4660 or by visiting the Leavey Center ticket office.
Freshman Matt Long had three hits, including his seventh double of the season, while Kris Watts notched a pair of singles in the win. Each player also drove in two runs. Matt Wickswat gave up only two runs and struck out six in six innings of work to up his record to 6-1 on the year.
Gonzaga's Dustin Colclough got the home team on the board in the first with a two-out double, and the game stayed that way until SCU's big fourth inning.
Three-straight singles and a balk allowed Santa Clara to pull ahead at 2-1 with none out, and things only went up for the Broncos from there. After Gabriel Alcantar's RBI fielder's choice made it 3-1, Kyle Hartz and Michael Lange each drew a walk to chase Gonzaga starter Clayton Mortensen, who ended up falling to 5-5 with the loss.
With two away, Eric Newton drew a bases-loaded walk, and Long followed with a two-run double for the big blow of the inning. Watts followed with a two-run single to complete the scoring.
From that point the SCU bats went silent as they only accounted for one more hit in the final five innings. The Bulldogs posted a run in the seventh to cut the Bronco lead to six but didn't seem to have much steam going heading into the ninth.
Things got tense in the ninth with closer Mark Willinsky on the mound. Three-straight singles started the inning and a fielder's choice from the next batter made it 8-3 with one away. Willinsky hit the next batter to load the bases, and Darin Holcomb singled in a pair to cut the lead to three with the tying run at the plate in the form of Scott Campbell, who promptly drove in a run with another single to make it a two-run ballgame.
At this point, Jeff Lombard was brought in and he got Colclough to fly out for the second out. Ryan Wiegand kept the inning alive with an RBI single, making it an 8-7 contest with the tying and winning runs on second and first, respectively. But Lombard buckled down and induced pinch-hitter Will Ayala to pop out to second to end the game.