Santa Clara Preps for Cal Poly, Third Annual Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament

Santa Clara Preps for Cal Poly, Third Annual Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament

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Santa Clara baseball (9-3) will take on Cal Poly on Tue., Mar. 6 at 6 p.m. before playing Thu.-Sun. in the third annual Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament. The Broncos will play Utah, Lehigh, Columbia and San Jose State in the tournament that is co-hosted by San Jose State.

Last week Santa Clara took two of three from cross-town rival San Jose State. They won on Friday and Sunday by scores of 3-1 and 4-0, respectively. They lost on Saturday 13-12 in a seven-run bottom of the ninth by the Spartans.

Fans should keep an eye on, @SCUBroncos and @SCU_Baseball on twitter or the athletics Facebook fan page for in game updates.

In the first meeting of the season, Santa Clara handed the Mustangs their first loss in 2012. The Broncos won in San Luis Obispo by a final score of 5-2. LHP Powell Fansler got the win and RF Lucas Herbst and LF Pat Stover and two hits each.

The Mustangs will enter Schott Stadium with a 9-3 record. They are hitting .292 as a team, led by the trio of INF Jimmy Allen (.372), INF Mike Miller (.364) and OF Nick Torres (.340). Allen has scored seven runs and is slugging .488. Miller has a team-high 20 hits in 55 at-bats while adding two doubles and two triples. Torres is third on the team with nine runs scored and has six doubles. OF Mitch Haniger is hitting .319 and has a team-high three home runs and 18 RBI.

Cal Poly is just as strong on the mound as it has a 2.97 team ERA. In a team-leading 20.1 innings, RHP Joey Wagman has a 2-1 record while striking out 12 and allowing just three walks. Batters are hitting .178 off the righty. LHP Kyle Anderson has made two starts and appeared in relief once in 2012. His ERA is the best on the team a 1.08 and he has a record of 2-0 while striking out 11 in 16.2 innings. RHP Michael Dingilian will be making his first apperance of the season when he starts on Tuesday.

The Utes have had a tough go in 2012, sitting at 2-9 on the season. C Jo Jo Sharrar leads the team with a .333 batting average (10-30). He has scored two runs and knocked in three. C Parker Morin leads the team in RBI (7) and hits (14) with an average of .311. INF James Brooks and INF Ethan Leiter have each hit one home run for Utah while OF Shaun Cooper has two big flies.

On the mound RHP Brock Duke leads the team with a 2.53 ERA in 10.2 innings. He has struck out eight while walking four. RHP Josh Chapman has made four relief appearances and pitched a total of 10.1 innings. He has an ERA of 2.61. RHP Joe Pond, who will start against Santa Clara, leads the team with 16.2 innings pitched in a team-high three starts. He has struck out 10 while walking four. RHP Tony Vocca leads the team with 12 strike outs in 13.2 innings.

The Mountain Hawks are 2-5 in 2012 and are yet to play a home game. INF Ryan Gajdos leads the team with nine hits and has a .500 batting average.  He has scored two runs and knocked in a team-best four more. OF/C Justin Pacchioli has made six starts and has a .350 average (7-20). He has scored a team-high three runs with two doubles and two RBI. Despite having just two at-bats, RHP Cory Kent is second on the team with three RBI and has the only Lehigh home run. Kent is also unscored upon in two relief appearances and he has struck out five in just 2.1 innings. 

In two starts RHP Nick Cassell has pitched 9.1 innings, the most on the team, and has an ERA of 1.93. LHP Nick Macaione has appeared two times out of the bullpen and is yet to give up a run while striking out four against just one walk. RHP Nick Stephens leads the team with seven strike outs in just 5.1 innings.

Columbia has only played four games this season and has a record of 1-3. C Enmanuel Cabreja is 4-9 (.444) to lead the team in average. OF Nick Ferraresi has hit four doubles in just 15 at-bats to lead the team with a .600 slugging percentage. He has also scored a team-best three runs. OF Dario Pizzano has added three doubles in his 12 at-bats and scored one run while knocking in two. INF Jon Eisen leads the team with four RBI in three games. 

RHP Stefan Olson has made the best start for the Lions in 2012. He went 5.1 innings and struck out four with no walks while allowing two runs. RHP Zack Tax has made two appearances and is yet to give up an earned run in 3.0 innings.LHP David Speer leads the team with 7.0 innings pitched in his lone start of the season.

San Jose state is 3-7 so far in 2012. OF Andre Mercurio has been the best Spartan hitter in 2012. He is 12-38, good for a .316 average. He does not have an extra-base hit but has scored five runs and has two RBI. IF Caleb Natov leads the team with five RBI and has added two doubles in his 27 at-bats. OF Michael Gerlach has shown a patient eye at the plate. Despite hitting just .190 his on-base percentage is fourth on the team at .370 because of his team-leading five walks in 21 at-bats. 

RHP Sean Martin (0-0; 3.55) and LHP Johnny Malero (0-3; 1.98) have been solid for the Spartans. Malero has made three starts and has been unlucky in picking up three losses despite his 1.98 ERA. Martin has come in from the bullpen four times to pitch 12.2 innings and has struck out 14 while walking six.

Junior RHP Tommy Nance (2-0; 3.04) has lived up to the title of Friday night starter in his first two Division I starts. Against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 24, the Broncos home-opener, he handcuffed the Flames in 7.2 innings. He allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits and three walks while striking out eight. 

RHP Mike Couch (1-1; 2.70) threw his first complete game and first career shutout vs. San Jose State on Mar. 4. He allowed six hits and one walk while striking out seven. On the season he has made three starts and pitched 20.0 innings. His 17 strikeouts leads the Broncos.

RHP Paul Twining (2-1; 4.82) has been the top bullpen arm thus far for Coach O'Brien. Twining has made seven appearances to lead the team and struck out 10 batters in 9.1 innings. He also leads the team with three saves.

OF Lucas Herbst and OF Pat Stover have paced the Broncos thus far in 2012. Herbst leads the team with .438 batting average (21-48) while Stover is second with a .383 (18-47) mark. Herbst has scored 17 runs and added 10 RBI while hitting three doubles and three triples. With three walks and four HBP, his on-base percentage stands at an eye-popping .571 which has helped him steal three bases. Stover leads the team 14 RBI and has also scored 12 runs. He has three doubles and a home run. He leads the team with five stolen bases and has yet to be caught. 

Others doing well include 1B Andrew Biancardi who has a home run and two doubles while adding 10 RBI and scoring six runs. Freshman DH/1B T.J. Braff is coming up big in his first season, as he has six RBI, fourth-best on the team. 2B Evan Peters hit a big triple against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 26 to help Santa Clara come back from five runs down late in the game.

The third annual Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament, co-hosted by Santa Clara and San Jose State, will be held from Mar. 8-11 on the campuses of Santa Clara and San Jose State Universities. The tournament is named after the late John F. (Jack) Gifford, an avid baseball fan and long-time supporter of several college programs all around the Bay Area, as well as at his alma mater, UCLA. He passed away in January of 2010. 

"We can only hope to organize a tournament and play this great game in a way that reflects the honor and integrity that the Jack Gifford name represents," said first-year Santa Clara baseball head coach Dan O'Brien. "One thing is for sure, the current men of Bronco baseball will learn all about this quality man before we take the field for a tournament in his name. He is a model for what we all should strive to be."

Mr. Gifford, a 1963 graduate of UCLA and founder of Maxim Integrated Products, was an avid baseball fan and a long-time, generous supporter of several college baseball programs. For years, his donations aided the baseball teams at San Jose State University, Santa Clara University, Stanford University, the University of California, and his alma mater, UCLA, with equipment, uniforms, facilities, travel, and everything in between.

At UCLA, which Mr. Gifford attended on a baseball scholarship, he and his wife's names adorn the Jack and Rhodine Gifford Hitting Facility, which was completed ahead of the 2009 season.

Mr. Gifford started his career in the semiconductor industry in 1964 at the age of 24 with Fairchild Semiconductor. He went on to co-found Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), run Intersil, and most recently, found and serve as the CEO since 1983 of Maxim, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif. Considered one of the founding fathers of the analog microchip industry, he retired as Maxim's CEO in 2007.

Through his company, Maxim, Mr. Gifford was able to provide internships for numerous Bay Area collegiate baseball student-athletes when they graduated. Over the years, dozens of them played for his summer baseball team, the Maxim Yankees. The final edition of the Maxim squad went 5-2 at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., in August of 2008. Mr. Gifford served as the club's general manager.

The 2012 edition of the tournament will feature Santa Clara, San Jose State, Utah, Lehigh and Columbia. There will be five games at Stephen Schott Stadium and five games at Municipal Stadium. Santa Clara's first game will be vs. Utah on Thu., Mar. 8 at 6 p.m.

Twin brothers OF Matt Ozanne and 3B/DH Drew Ozanne look to continue to produce offensively for the Broncos in 2012. Matt started 45 games last season and lead the team with 10 stolen bases and added 22 RBI.  He has appeared in nine games, making 11starts, in 2012. He has one home run and five RBI. Drew started 29 games, appearing in 37. He had 16 RBI on the season, including a walk-off RBI single against Bakersfield. This season Drew has appeared in five games while making one start. He has scored four runs and added one RBI. The brothers batted back-to-back in the lineup three times last season and look to anchor the offense in 2012. He has made three appearances. 

Coming off of a spectacular rookie season for the Broncos, Kyle DeMerritt has been hard at work preparing for the 2012 season.  He spent time over the summer in the very competitive Northwest League in Wausau, Wis.. where he was a member of the Wisconsin Woodchucks. 

"Summer ball plain and simple is a blast," said DeMerritt. "I was given the opportunity to play out of state for two and a half months against players from all around the country. We get fed and housed and our job is to play baseball every day... it doesn't get much better. However, we play 70 games in 75 days which was a grind that really humbled me and allowed me to realize what the next level (professional ball) is all about. On the baseball side I had both success and failures and the competition I faced really helped me mature as a ball player. Lastly, I was fortunate to have an amazing host family and stay in a town where our team was highly regarded. It was awesome playing for the people out there."

Now DeMerritt and his teammates are hard at work trying to become a unit on the field. Coach O'Brien stresses the importance of team chemistry and with DeMerritt as one of the top returners he will be looked upon for a larger leadership role. Thus far in 2012 he has made nine starts and score five runs with five RBI.

Eight select Bronco baseball games, four non-conference and four conference, in 2012 will be called on the Broncos' online Game Central via Stretch internet, for the first time since 2010. All eight broadcast will be done by a two-man student broadcast affiliated with Santa Clara's athletic department. The crew includes John Nash , a junior on the Santa Clara men's water polo team and an Athletic Department student employee, and Brandon Rebboah, also an Athletic Department student employee. In addition to the eight broadcasted games, all home games will have free video streaming via Game Central. The games to be aired will be Mar. 9 vs. Lehigh, Mar. 30 vs. Portland, Apr. 10 vs. Cal, Apr. 20 vs. Pepperdine, Apr. 27 vs. Saint Mary's, May 22 vs. Stanford and May 25 vs. LMU. 

"We're excited to have two passionate and talented Santa Clara students broadcast our games once again. We want people to fall in love with Bronco baseball and who better to help us do that than these two outstanding young men," said O'Brien about the radio broadcasts.

One of the goals baseball head coach Dan O'Brien had when he started was to get as many people into Schott Stadium for the home-opener on Feb. 24 as possible. While the stadium was not sold out, it was close. A total of 1,273 spectators came to watch the Broncos take on Illinois-Chicago and push their record to 5-0. 

Some of the attractions included fresh popcorn being popped around the stadium, games for children on the concourse and of course, the Bronco baseball team in their old-school baggy uniforms.

"The atmosphere tonight was electric and I'm just so thrilled that the Santa Clara community came out to support us," said O'Brien after the win. "For their support, we promise to give our Bronco faithful a passionate and energetic effort between the lines the entire season. They will be proud of how our team competes and can be excited for an aggressive and fun style of baseball when the Broncos take the field."

The 5-0 mark the Broncos posted to open the season was the best start for the team since the 2008 season when it also went 5-0. That team took down Utah Valley, Kansas State, Pacific and San Jose State in its first five games. They won games by scores of 12-1,7-2, 9-2, 15-6 and 7-6 before finally falling at San Jose State 10-9. 

The 2008 squad opened the season with a mark of 9-1 and finished the season with an overall record of 33-22. That season the Broncos finished third in the West Coast Conference with a 13-8 record in league play.

With the 2012 edition of Bronco baseball sitting at 6-2 through the first two weeks of the season, the best start since that 2008 team, the feeling around the team is that they can compete with anybody.

"We have the talent on the roster to compete in the West Coast Conference this year but we need to come together as a team," said O'Brien. "The college model is all about team, it's all about the guy to your left and to your right and that's where we're going to spend a lot of our time. Our team chemistry is going to be as strong, if not stronger, than anybody in the country. That college model is going to be in the heart of everything we do."

Santa Clara isn't just beating up on weak teams in the early part of the 2012 season. So far they have defeated No. 35 Texas State, No. 37 Wichita State and a Cal Poly team whose only loss at the time was a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the visiting Broncos. 

Cal Poly started the season by sweeping Oklahoma State by finals of 6-0, 11-3 and 6-0. After the Mustangs' loss to Santa Clara, they took on Loyola Marymount, picked to finish fourth in the West Coast Conference, in Los Angeles. Cal Poly left town with a four-game sweep of the Broncos' conference rival.