SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In its final game before conference play of the 2014 season, Santa Clara baseball notched a 6-3 victory over Penn State Saturday afternoon at Stephen Schott Stadium. The Broncos scored in their first three offensive innings and shut out the Nittany Lions over the final five frames for their second win in as many days.
Peter Hendron made his fifth start of 2014 for the Broncos (9-11) Saturday afternoon. The sophomore threw 3.2 innings and allowed three earned runs on five hits to the Nittany Lions (5-12) with six walks and one strikeout. He threw a five-pitch, 1-2-3 third and retired five batters in a row between the last out of the second and the first out of the fourth.
Freshman Kevin George (W, 1-0) picked up his first collegiate win in 4.1 innings of relief and allowed just three hits with four strikeouts. He pitched 1-2-3 sixth and seventh innings as part of a streak in which he retired seven consecutive batters.
"I've been a matchup guy, so I've been studying the lefties a lot in their lineup," George said. "You notice the little things like he doesn't like getting jammed, he's going to take some pitches on the outer half. You just gather small little bits throughout the weekend. Coach [Gabe] Ribas gives us a great scouting report and we have guys working on charts all weekend."
"I just thought [George] was tremendous," associate head coach/pitching coach Gabe Ribas said. "He's such a competitive kid, he's such a good athlete. He let his pitches work, he let his movement work, he let his changeup work. He didn't even really have to keep them off balance because he was around the zone with some movement, it just made it hard for them to hit. That was a huge effort."
With the bases loaded in the second, Penn State sophomore left fielder James Coates hit a line drive, two-RBI single that nicked off the glove of diving senior first baseman Mac Hess. Santa Clara scored the game-tying run in the home half of the inning on an error by Penn State catcher Alex Malinsky. The sophomore overthrew redshirt sophomore third baseman Ryan Richter trying to pick off senior designated hitter Peter Summerville, who broke for home on a squeeze attempt.
The Broncos pulled ahead 4-2 in the third on RBIs from senior left fielder Casey Munoz and Hess. Penn State answered when Malinsky touched home plate on a wild pitch in the next inning to make the score 4-3.
The combined efforts of George, sophomore Reece Karalus (SV, 3) and a stout defensive effort by the Broncos helped them hold the Nittany Lions scoreless the rest of the way. Santa Clara has not committed an error in its last 20.2 innings going back to the seventh inning of their March 13 game against Penn State.
"The fastball command was there, it's really nice to have the defense behind you and know that they're going to make plays," George said. "It's unbelievable to pitch behind these guys. Once it comes off the bat, huge double play … of course we're going to turn it. We're Broncos. It's what we do."
Santa Clara added its fifth and sixth runs of the game with two outs in the seventh. Berman hit an RBI double off the wall in left center to score sophomore right fielder Kert Woods, and was driven in on an RBI single from Munoz. Berman and Munoz led the Broncos with two RBIs apiece, and eight of nine Santa Clara starters hit safely in the win, highlighted by Summerville's 2-for-4 effort.
Karalus earned his third save of the season by pitching a scoreless ninth for the Broncos. He has not allowed a run in 7.1 innings over his last seven outings.
"He's studding up right now, he loves being the closer," Ribas said of Karalus. "He comes in super aggressive with two or three pitches depending on the night and he has no fear right now. … He's just embracing that persona. Everybody starts dancing when his music comes on, and that's a good sign."
West Coast Conference play begins next weekend when the Broncos host the Pepperdine Waves for a three-game set at Schott Stadium March 21-23. First pitch March 21 is scheduled for 6 p.m.
"We're getting back to how we played in the fall and it's really exciting to be a part of it right now," George said.
Game Notes: First pitch was at 12:05 p.m. … time of game was 2:37 … attendance was 237.