Baseball Heads to San Francisco Aiming for Top Four Spot in WCC

Baseball Heads to San Francisco Aiming for Top Four Spot in WCC

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara Baseball continues its battle for one of the top four spots in the West Coast Conference with a Bay Area road series at San Francisco this weekend. First pitch times are scheduled for May 2 at 3 p.m., May 3 at 1 p.m. and May 4 at 1 p.m.

Last weekend, the Broncos took two of three games at home against the second-place Loyola Marymount Lions. In the series opener April 25, the teams combined for 10 runs in the first three innings and Santa Clara's late comeback bid fell short in a 6-5 loss. On April 26, the Broncos broke a 2-2 tie with multiple runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to win 10-2. Santa Clara claimed the series with a three-run eighth April 27 to win 8-7.

Santa Clara made the short trip to San Jose's Municipal Stadium for a Tuesday contest against the San Jose State Spartans April 29, and jumped out to a 4-1 lead on its way to a 7-4 win.

Probable Starters

Fri., May 2, 3 p.m.

SCU: RHP D.J. Zapata (3-6, 4.21 ERA) at USF: RHP Abe Bobb (3-3, 5.12 ERA)

Sat., May 3, 1 p.m.

SCU: RHP Peter Hendron (5-3, 3.01 ERA) at USF: LHP Christian Cecilio (4-6, 3.72 ERA)

Sun., May 4, 1 p.m.

SCU: RHP Jacob Steffens (0-4, 4.46 ERA) at USF: LHP Sheldon Lee (4-1, 2.77 ERA)

Live Stats and Internet Radio

David Gentile is slated to call the weekend's games. Click here for an audio feed.

Click here to access live stats for the weekend's games.

Stevie Berman Named WCC Rawlings Baseball Player of the Week (Click Here for the full release) and College Sports Madness West Coast Player of the Week

The West Coast Conference announced its weekly baseball honors Monday, and Santa Clara's Stevie Berman has been named WCC Rawlings Baseball Player of the Week for April 28, 2014. Berman is the first freshman to win the player of the week award this season, which has now been handed out 11 times. 

During Santa Clara's weekend series, the catcher from Saratoga, Calif. went 5-for-11 (.455) with a double, two home runs, four RBIs, four runs scored and three walks. Berman played an integral part in the team's success as part of a two-games-to-one series win over the second-place Loyola Marymount Lions. He slugged at a 1.091 clip and notched a .571 on-base percentage. Berman also excelled behind the plate, committing no errors and limiting the conference's stolen base leader in LMU to 2-for-4 in the three-game set.

On April 26, Berman hit home runs in his first two at-bats and added a single and two walks to reach base in all five of his trips to the plate in a 10-2 victory. He hit a two-run double to put to Broncos on the board in the first inning April 29 in an 8-7 win, and went on to go 2-for-4 with two RBIs, a walk and a run scored.

This Weekend's Opponent: San Francisco

San Francisco enters the weekend with an overall record of 20-23, including splits of 8-13 in the West Coast Conference and 9-11 at Benedetti Diamond.

Last weekend, the Dons lost a pair of walkoff games, each by a score of 3-2, to open their series at Portland. Cody Lenahan hit a one-out single for the Pilots in the opener April 25 and Ryan Barr hit a two-out single in the second game of the series April 26 to overcome a 2-1 deficit in the ninth. The Dons won the series finale (game two of Saturday's doubleheader) 7-0 on the strength of a complete-game shutout by Sheldon Lee, who held the Pilots to four hits.

In a midweek game April 29 at Cal, Devon Rodriguez hit a two-out, solo home run in the bottom of the first in a 1-0 victory for the Golden Bears. Each of San Francisco's last four losses have been one-run games, and none of the team's last six games have featured more than seven total runs.

Nino Giarratano is in his 16th season as head coach of the Dons in 2014 and enters the weekend with a USF coaching record of 452-448-1 (.502 winning percentage). He is a three-time WCC Coach of the Year and has led the Dons to three postseason appearances, all since 2006. Last season, USF went to the Eugene, Ore. NCAA regional and went 1-2, including a pair of extra-inning games.

West Coast Conference Standings (as of May 1, 2014)

The Broncos are currently in sixth place with a WCC record of 10-8 and the Dons are in eighth place with a WCC record of 8-13. Santa Clara is 0.5 games behind San Diego and Pacific, and 1.5 games behind LMU and Gonzaga.

At the end of the regular season, the top four teams in the conference earn a berth in the West Coast Conference Baseball Championship, held May 22-24 at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif.

Bronco Offense

The Broncos have produced double-digit hits in seven of their last nine games, including 16 in an 8-5 win April 17 at San Diego. They recorded 23 hits combined in the last two games of last weekend's series against LMU, both Bronco victories. Prior to the first San Jose State game April 15, the Broncos had put up double-digit hits four times in their last 23 contests dating back to March 4.

Five Santa Clara batters hit better than .385 in the team's weekend series against LMU. Stevie Berman led the way by going 5-for-11 (.455) with four RBIs, a double, two home runs, five runs scored and three walks. Greg Harisis led the team with six hits and Quinton Perry posted a Bronco-best five RBIs and four walks.

Jose Vizcaino, Jr. had a 12-game hitting streak come to an end in Tuesday's victory at San Jose State. He and Harisis are tied for the team lead with 47 hits each, while Vizcaino leads all Broncos with nine stolen bases.

Berman reached base in eight of his 14 trips to the plate last weekend for the Broncos. The freshman has six multi-hit performances in his last 12 outings, after recording six in his first 29 appearances to start the season. Berman's 22 walks are third-best in the WCC alongside three other players.

Casey Munoz has six hits in his last eight at-bats for the Broncos, six multi-hit games in his last nine starts and has driven in a run in seven of his last nine games. He has increased his batting average from .234 to .291 (57 points) in his last 10 games by going 19-for-40 (.475) over that stretch.

T.J. Braff went 3-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored for the Broncos Tuesday at San Jose State. He has driven in at least one run in four of Santa Clara's last six WCC games, and has nine RBIs in seven conference starts overall.

Perry had a streak of seven straight games with a walk snapped Tuesday at San Jose State. The senior has nine of his 14 walks this season in his last eight games. He recorded five RBIs in a two-game stretch April 25-26 last weekend against LMU.

The Broncos have 10 batters with double-digit RBIs on the season, with Munoz leading the way at 20 overall and Perry recording the most in WCC play with 12.

The senior duo of Harisis and Munoz was among the most productive offensive players last season, as Munoz led the Broncos in batting average (.308), hits (64), doubles (10) and RBIs (31) while Harisis led the Broncos in on-base percentage (.399) and stolen bases (13-for-15).

Bronco Pitching

D.J. Zapata threw 8.2 innings and allowed six runs (four earned) on 11 hits with two walks and four strikeouts in his last outing April 25 vs. LMU. The Lions scored all six of their runs in the first three innings against Zapata, who limited the opposition to no runs on five hits in his last 6.0 innings. He has pitched at least 7.0 innings in half of his 12 starts, including two complete game, one-run outings this season.

Peter Hendron earned his second win in a row by throwing 7.0 innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts April 26 vs. LMU. The sophomore has four straight quality starts in which he has thrown at least 7.0 innings, and has made it through 5.2 innings in 10 of his 11 starts this season. He is holding opponents to a .221 batting average in West Coast Conference action.

Jacob Steffens threw 5.1 innings and allowed five earned runs on eight hits with no walks and three strikeouts April 27 vs. LMU, his first start since March 9. He faced the minimum three times in the second through fifth innings to keep Santa Clara in the lead during the series finale. The sophomore had a 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings as a reliever prior to last weekend's start, his first since March 9. Steffens posted a 4.58 ERA in 19.2 innings over four starts from Feb. 16-March 9.

Santa Clara used only two relief pitchers last weekend against the Lions. Reece Karalus appeared in all three games, picking up the win in the series finale Sunday, while Jason Seever did not allow a run in 1.2 innings pitched. Karalus has made a conference-most 27 appearances this season, and pitched in seven of Santa Clara's last eight games.

Karalus is one of 18 pitchers in the country to lead his team in wins and saves as of April 27*. Karalus is currently 5-1 with nine saves, and is one of only two pitchers in the group with at least five wins and at least nine saves (Brendan McCurry – Oklahoma State). The Santa Clara sophomore picked up his fifth win of the season April 27 in 3.0 relief innings against Loyola Marymount and his ninth save of the season April 29 at San Jose State.

*Information gathered and distributed by Michael Stambaugh – Bethune-Cookman University

Scouting San Francisco

Golden Spikes award watch list selection Bradley Zimmer leads the Dons in several offensive categories, including batting average (.376 – 5th in the WCC), runs scored (38), triples (5), home runs (7 – t-2nd WCC), slugging percentage (.596 – 2nd WCC), on-base percentage (.461 – 3rd WCC) walks (22) and stolen bases (19 in 26 attempts, 2nd WCC). Fellow everyday starter Derek Atkinson is hitting .343 with a team-best 37 RBIs in 2014.

Brendan Hendriks has the most doubles (16) and extra-base hits (21) on the Dons this season. In 19 appearances and 16 starts in WCC play, Bob Cruikshank is hitting .344 with seven doubles and 11 RBIs.

Abe Bobb makes his 12th start of the season Friday. In his last outing April 25 at Portland, Bobb allowed two runs (one earned) on 10 hits with two strikeouts to finish with a no decision in 6.2 innings. On April 18, he threw a complete game and held the Pepperdine Waves to two runs to pick up his third win of the season. The 2013 All-West Coast Conference selection went 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA in WCC play last season.

Christian Cecilio makes his 11th start and 13th appearance of the season Saturday. In his last outing April 26 at Portland, Cecilio allowed three earned runs on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts in 8.0 innings. He has pitched at least 6.0 innings in eight consecutive starts and leads the Dons with 56 strikeouts on the season. The junior from San Jose's Bellarmine Prep has pitched in three straight games decided by one run and the Dons are 1-2 in those games.

Sheldon Lee makes his sixth start and 15th appearance of the season Sunday. In his last outing April 26 at Portland, the redshirt-junior threw a complete-game shutout, allowing four hits with three walks to the Pilots while striking out two. He has gone 27.0 straight innings as a starter without allowing an earned run, the longest active streak in in NCAA Division I baseball*.

Logan West has the top ERA out of the bullpen at 1.88 in 14.1 innings (three earned runs) and closer Houston Hibberd has posted seven saves in 18 appearances this season.

The Dons are second in the conference with a .976 fielding percentage, and have not committed an error in three straight games entering the weekend. Opposing teams are 37-of-45 (.822) in stolen base attempts against USF, who has caught the fewest runners stealing of all WCC teams with eight this season. 

*Information compiled and distributed by Zachary Farmer, University of San Francisco

Keep Your Enemies Closer

Santa Clara is one of 13 teams in the country to play at least 17 one-run games in the 2014 season*. The Broncos have a 9-8 record in games decided by one run. Four of Santa Clara's last seven games have been decided by one run (2-2) and four of the team's last five losses have come by one run.

*Information gathered and distributed by Daniel Ruede – University of Hartford

Welcome to the New Age

Several Santa Clara freshmen have seen a significant part of the action this season: Stevie Berman has made 43 appearances and 41 starts (43-41), Rory Graf-Brennen (24-8), Max Kuhns (19-15 in the field, five relief appearances), Kyle Czaplak (36-25) and Tyler Meditz (22-5).

Six of nine Bronco pitchers to make a start this season are underclassmen: sophomore Reece Karalus, sophomore Peter Hendron, sophomore Jacob Steffens, redshirt-freshman Steven Wilson, freshman Kevin George and sophomore Nick Medeiros. The lone upperclassman in the weekend rotation is Friday night starter D.J. Zapata, who is in his second season of college baseball with the Broncos.

Reece Karalus Named to NCBWA Mid-Season Stopper of the Year Watch List (Click Here for the full release)

Reece Karalus is one of 50 players named to the mid-season watch list for the 10th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, announced by the association Wednesday. The sophomore closer is one of only three West Coast Conference pitchers and one of only 16 underclassmen to make the list. The North Bend, Wash. native is 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA, eight saves and 30 strikeouts in 31.2 innings between 22 relief appearances and one start this season.

Santa Clara Bests Manhattan 10-2, O'Brien Earns 500th Career Win (Click Here for the full game story)

Bronco head coach Dan O'Brien won his 500th career game as the Broncos defeated Manhattan 10-2 on March 2. The third-year Santa Clara head coach won 454 games with his alma mater, UC San Diego, and collected his 46th win at Santa Clara in the victory over the Jaspers.

"There's been a ton of great memories and some big team wins in there, but I don't do this for the wins," O'Brien said after Sunday's game. "I coach for the countless lifelong relationships I've developed over the years. Those mean the world to me."

Peter Hendron Named College Sports Madness West Coast Player of the Week

Sophomore pitcher Peter Hendron was named the College Sports Madness West Coast Player of the Week for March 3, 2014. Hendron posted career high marks with 8.0 innings and seven strikeouts in a 10-2 win March 2 against Manhattan at the Sanderson Ford Baseball Classic in Surprise, Ariz. last weekend. He allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits with two walks and held the Jaspers to 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position to earn the winning decision to improve to 2-1.

Greg Harisis Named Rawlings WCC Baseball Player of the Week

Greg Harisis won Irish Baseball Classic MVP honors with a stat line of 9-for-19, three RBIs, seven runs scored, two doubles, one home run and an outfield assist as the Broncos went 4-0 Feb. 20-23. He was named the WCC Rawlings Baseball Player of the Week, becoming the first Bronco to earn the honor since Patrick Terry on May 23, 2011.

First Pitch Change: May 17, 2014 vs. Saint Mary's

First pitch for the second-to-last home game of the 2014 season — May 17 vs. Saint Mary's — is now scheduled for 1 p.m. The game was originally scheduled to start at 3 p.m.

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