SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Santa Clara Broncos opened the scoring in the third inning of Saturday's West Coast Conference game, and added runs in four of the next five innings to defeat the Portland Pilots 7-3. Sophomore starting pitcher Peter Hendron went for seven strong innings, eight different Broncos recorded a hit and the team committed no errors for its first WCC win at Schott Stadium this season.
"It makes a big difference when we have a consistent approach throughout the game at the plate, and we had that today," head coach Dan O'Brien said.
Hendron (W, 3-3) threw 7.0 innings and allowed two earned runs on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He sat the Pilots (7-24, 1-10 WCC) down in order and struck out one batter in each of the first two innings for the Broncos (12-18, 3-5 WCC).
"I was just looking to pound my fastball, get ahead, and then go to my curveball or changeup for the strikeout," Hendron said. "We were trying to work away, so I was throwing fastballs away, and that was working against these guys."
Junior shortstop Michael Lucarelli opened the scoring with an RBI double to left center to put the Pilots up 1-0 in the third. Santa Clara answered in its half of the inning with an RBI sacrifice fly from freshman catcher Stevie Berman against Portland starting pitcher Kurt Yinger (L, 0-4). The junior went 4.0 innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits with four walks and two strikeouts.
In the fourth, the Broncos added a pair of runs on a play that featured a passed ball and two Pilot errors to make the score 3-1. Freshman right fielder Tyler Meditz stole second on a pitch that came in for a passed ball, allowing senior left fielder Casey Munoz to score from third. Meditz made his way to third and scored on throwing errors from freshman catcher Devin Kopas and Yinger.
Lucarelli hit for his second RBI of the game on a sacrifice fly in the fifth to pull Portland within one run at 3-2. One inning later, the Broncos retook a two-run advantage when sophomore shortstop Jose Vizcaino, Jr. scored on a passed ball from sophomore relief pitcher Jackson Lockwood.
Back-to-back two-out doubles from Berman and senior designated hitter Quinton Perry put the Broncos ahead 5-2 in the seventh. Senior first baseman Mac Hess followed the second double with an RBI single up the middle to make the score 6-2. Birthday boys Munoz and Vizcaino, Jr. each recorded two hits for the Broncos, who who recorded doubles for six of their 10 overall hits on the afternoon.
"We scored a lot of runs; we got some knocks which is great," O'Brien said. "I was really impressed that they kept the pressure on — they put runners in scoring position in seven out of our eight offensive innings, and that makes it pretty tough on the opposing team."
Freshman designated hitter Davis Tominaga's RBI groundout brought Portland back within three runs at 6-3 in the eighth. Meditz recorded his first collegiate RBI on a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning to drive in the final run of the game.
Sophomore Reece Karalus (SV, 5) took the hill for the last two innings and gave up one run on one hit with one walk and two strikeouts to earn his fifth save of the season. In the ninth, he allowed a leadoff single before recording a strikeout and a game-ending double play off the bat of sophomore right fielder Ryan Barr. Karalus and Hendron collectively held the Pilots to 0-for-8 with two outs and 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"Pete and Reece together just had great presence on the mound, and what I loved is when both of them started to rush or get out of their rhythm, they both calmed themselves down and got right back to work," O'Brien said.
The Broncos and Pilots conclude the three-game set tomorrow at Schott Stadium with a 1 p.m. first pitch. Steven Wilson (0-2, 4.93 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Broncos against Colin Feldtman (1-4, 3.22 ERA).
"It's always nice to get that Saturday game, because if you lose on Friday, you have to even the series on Saturday," Hendron said. "We did that, and we're pumped for tomorrow."
Game Notes: First pitch was at 3:04 p.m. … time of game was 2:26 … attendance was 331 … Portland used the same starting lineup as in Friday's series opener … Yinger faced two batters in the fifth.