SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara baseball fell 15-9 to Northwestern on Sunday afternoon in a game that was shortened to eight innings due to the Wildcats having to catch a flight back to Illinois.
Control issues resurfaced for the Bronco pitching staff who walked eight batters, hit two and threw three wild pitches. Junior right-handed pitcher Michael Bono was handed the loss while Northwestern's Josh Levy earned the win. He pitched five scoreless innings in relief and struck out five batters.
Santa Clara (3-8) jumped on Northwestern (2-8) in the bottom of the first and scored two runs. The Broncos forced the Wildcats to replace their starting pitcher, Tommy Bordignon, who failed to record an out. Sophomore John Cresto led off the game with a single. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and then scored after the next three batters, senior left fielder Tyler Meditz, junior first baseman Jake Brodt and junior designated hitter Niko Holm were walked. Meditz scored on a wild pitch before Bordignon was relieved by Levy who ended the inning.
Northwestern responded with three runs (two earned) in the top of the second inning on Bono. Jack Claeys walked to lead off the inning followed by Connor Lind reaching on an error. Willie Bourbon walked before Leo Kaplan singled to right field to bring home Claeys. Ben Dickey reached on a fielder's choice to score Lind then Jack Dunn singled on a bunt to score Bourbon and give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.
NU added a run in the top half of the third inning after walking two batters and then two straight groundouts brought Joe Hoscheit across home plate.
Freshman Bryson Spagnuolo replaced Bono in the top of the fourth inning and walked a batter before giving up three doubles that gave the Wildcats a 7-2 lead. The Wildcats added two additional runs with two outs before freshman right-handed pitcher Brandon Buckley was able to end the inning.
Northwestern added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning to give them a nine run lead. However, the Broncos scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut the lead to three. Sophomore right fielder Matt Smithwick scored via wild pitch and then Meditz recorded an RBI single that scored freshman second baseman Zach Walsh. Brodt then hit a 2 RBI single and he came around to score when junior catcher Lucas Eliason hit a home run to left field. It was Eliason's first hit as a Bronco.
Northwestern responded with a home run on the first pitch of the top of the seventh inning. Alex Erro took sophomore left-handed pitcher Alex Barden deep to left field to put Northwestern up 12-8.
Not to be outdone, junior shortstop Austin Fisher homered on the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh inning to cut the lead back to three.
The Wildcats added three more insurance runs in the top of the eighth inning to end the game's scoring.
Up Next: Santa Clara heads on the road for the first time this season to play a four-game series at Oregon on March 9-12.