SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Wrapping-up the first year under head coach Dan O'Brien and his staff with senior day at Schott Stadium, Santa Clara baseball lost its final game of 2012 vs. LMU by a final score of 4-2. The loss gives the Broncos a final record of 26-28 with a 5-19 record in WCC play while LMU finishes at .500 with a 27-27 record and 13-10 mark in conference.
Senior RHP James Smith (3-1; 5.04) made the start and picked up a loss in his final collegiate game. Smith threw 4.2 innings and allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and one strikeout. On a quiet day for the offense, RF Greg Harisis went 1-1, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. He also added a walk and a stolen base.
"It was about a month ago that we talked about competing to the last pitch of the season," said O'Brien. "That's exactly what we did today. Andrew [Biancardi] didn't get a knock in the ninth but there's nobody I'd rather have at the plate in that situation than a senior and a guy whose been a great lead for us all year. It was a tough loss but I was really proud of the way the guys competed."
Santa Clara got its first two runners on in the bottom of the third when 3B Evan Peters was hit by a pitch and SS Justin Viele walked. Harisis sacrificed the runners to second and third but neither run scored as DH Lucas Herbst popped out and LF Pat Stover flied out to right.
DH Tanner Donnels led things off in the top of the fourth with a double to the right center field gap. 2B Shon Roe tried to sacrifice him to third but Smith jumped off the mound and made a nice throw to third to gun down Donnels for the first out of the inning. After a fly out, Roe stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by C Quinton Perry but Smith struck out LF Mitchell Esser to escape the inning.
SS Scott Harkin doubled past third base leading off the fifth after he saved a run in the bottom of the fourth as he went to his right on a grounder with runners on first and second and gunned down Evan Peters at first. Lead-off man CF Matt Lowenstein followed with a double to left to break the scoreless tie. After Lowenstein moved to third on a wild pitch, RF Zac Fujimoto hit a sacrifice fly to right to make the score 2-0 LMU. Smith got the second out on a liner to right before walking C Colton Plaia in front of Donnels. Plaia moved to second on a passed ball and Donnels singled to right. Harisis' throw beat Plaia to the plate but Perry couldn't make the catch and the third run of the inning came across. Smith was lifted for RHP Chris Mendoza who got the third out on a pop up to first.
Peters worked a lead-off walk in the bottom of the seventh to chase Buckle from the game. New Lion's pitcher RHP Aaron Griffin entered and got the first out as the Broncos failed to execute a hit and run and Peters was caught stealing. Viele worked the count full and took the Broncos' seventh walk of the game. Lead-off man Harisis came to the plate and singled to left, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Herbst followed with a RBI single to center to cut the lead to 3-1. Stover grounded into a double play to end the inning.
After Mendoza got the first two outs in the top of the eighth, Roe came to the plate and hit a hanging breaking ball over the left field fence to put LMU back up by three runs at 4-1 and ended the day for Mendoza. LHP Max Deering came in for his 28th appearance of the season and made quick work of 1B Kyle Raubinger by striking him out on four pitches.
Senior RHP Paul Twining came in and pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, including a strike out looking to end the inning. With Twining getting into the game, all five seniors had appeared in the game.
RHP Bret Dahlson, the Lions' closer, came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth. DeMerritt hit a hard grounder back to the pitch for the first out. Peters came to the plate for his final collegiate plate appearance and drew a walk. Stephen Takahashi pinch ran for Peters and moved to second when Viele was hit by a pitch. Harisis came to the plate representing the tying run and lofted a single over the shortstop to bring Herbst to the plate as the winning run. Herbst struck out swinging and Stover came up as the Broncos last chance. The count to Stover ran full before a walk loaded the bases. Biancardi came up with the tying run in scoring position but struck out swinging to give LMU the 4-2 win.
Game Notes: First pitch was at 1:10 ... attendance was 409 ... Santa Clara finishes 2012 with nine more wins than 2011, the biggest increase in wins since a 13-game improvement from 1993 (27-29-1) to 1994 (40-20) ... Santa Clara's first hit was an infield single to third off of the fists of Pat Stover with two outs in the bottom of the fifth ... Zach Looney replaced Quinton Perry at catcher in the top of the seventh ... when Paul Twining pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, all five Bronco seniors had appeared in the game.