SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara baseball travels to Portland this weekend for its first road series in West Coast Conference play. The Broncos and Pilots begin their series on Friday at 6 p.m. PT at Joe Etzel Field.
Games #25-27 | Road Games #6-8
Portland, Ore. | Joe Etzel Field
All-Time Series: In a series that dates back to 1956, SCU holds a 50-32 lead all-time. The Broncos swept the Pilots in 2016 in Stephen Schott Stadium.
Probable Starters (2017 Stats)
Friday, March 31 • 6 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Eric Lex (1-5, 3.86 ERA) vs. POR LHP Grady Miller (1-4, 4.36 ERA)
Saturday, April 1 • 6 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Jacob Steffens (1-3, 4.46 ERA) vs. POR LHP Corbin Powers (0-2, 5.34 ERA)
Sunday, April 2 • 1 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Michael Bono (0-3, 7.23 ERA) vs. POR LHP Kevin Baker (1-4, 6.55 ERA)
Last Time Out
Santa Clara lost 4-2 at San Jose State on Wednesday in the first of two games against the Spartans this season. SJSU took a three-run lead in the first inning and the Broncos were unable to respond. Tyler Meditz hit a two-run home run, his third of the season, in the top of the ninth inning to put SCU on the board.
Santa Clara (5-19) has 15 newcomers on the 2017 squad and many of them will play significant roles this season. "We really focused on getting humble, hard working, grinders," head coach Dan O'Brien said on Feb. 14 at Bay Area Baseball Media Day.
Andre Nnebe, a freshman centerfielder who hails from Oakland, California, boasts the second-best batting average on the squad at .319. He has started every game this season and has recorded 30 hits including six doubles and three home runs while driving in 15 runs. He has also recorded 52 putouts and three assists.
Brandon Buckley, a freshman out of Kentfield, California, has been a bright spot for SCU out of the bullpen. He has made 10 appearances and pitched 20.2 innings, allowing just seven earned runs (13 runs total) and 18 hits while striking out 31 batters. He also has the best ERA on the team at 3.05.
Catcher Jake MacNichols, a freshman from Napa, California, went deep in his first collegiate at-bat on Feb. 18. He has started 21 of the first 23 games and has hit three home runs on the year. MacNichols also has 162 putouts and 27 assists for a .969 fielding percentage. Opposing baserunners have been caught stealing by MacNichols on 11 occasions this year, the best mark in the WCC.
Broncos in the Field
Junior Jake Brodt has made 113 starts in his career, playing primarily at first base. Brodt has the top batting average on the club at .340 and has recorded 32 hits (94 at-bats). He is third in the West Coast Conference and the leader on the team with nine doubles (0.38 per game).
Sophomore infielder John Cresto, a 2016 WCC All-Freshman Team member, is hitting .308, which is the third-best mark on the squad. He's hit six doubles on the year, which is tied for second on the team with Nnebe. Cresto has also hit four home runs on the season, which is the most on the team. He is third on the squad with 10 runs batted in.
2016 West Coast Conference Honorable Mention honoree Tyler Meditz, a senior outfielder, has started every game for the Broncos this season. The Honolulu, Hawaii native is hitting .226 on the year. He has hit three home runs on the year and boasts a slugging percentage of .345. He has 55 putouts as the starting left fielder.
Junior designated hitter Niko Holm recovered from a slow start at the plate to have the second-best on-base percentage on the squad at .419. He has been walked 14 times and hit by a pitch five times on the season. He has a .254 batting average with 17 hits, including five doubles and three runs batted in on the year.
Santa Clara is third in the WCC in home runs (18) and home runs per game (0.75) on the season with nine different student-athletes hitting those home runs.
Broncos on the Mound
Santa Clara is second in the league in strikeouts per nine innings at 8.1.
Redshirt senior RHP Jacob Steffens has stepped into the starting rotation after being a relief pitcher in 2016 (recovering from Tommy John). Steffens threw his first-career complete game against Northwestern (March 3) and tied a career high in strikeouts with 11. He has thrown 40.1 innings, allowing 20 earned runs (26 runs total) while striking out 44 batters. His 44 Ks is a top-50 mark in the nation and No. 2 in the conference. Steffens is also second in the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 6.29.
Redshirt sophomore RHP Eric Lex has been the No. 2 starter for SCU this season after missing the 2016 season (due to Tommy John surgery). He is 1-5 on the year with a 3.86 ERA in 35.0 innings pitched. He has recorded 36 strikeouts, the fifth-best mark in the league.
Junior Michael Bono has made five starts this season and has shown a lot of improvement in his time as a Bronco. He has thrown 23.2 innings and has an ERA of 7.23 with a record of 0-3.
Freshman Grant Nechak has made four starts on the year and eight appearances total. He earned the first win of his collegiate career on March 4 against Northwestern. Nechak allowed just four hits in his 7.0 innings pitched and struck out eight batters without allowing a single walk in that game. The 6-4 right-handed pitcher is 1-3 on the year and has thrown 26.1 innings with a 5.81 ERA.
With 15 newcomers, the Broncos have a very young squad but the team was also dealt two injury blows prior to the start of the 2017 season. Pitchers Steven Wilson and Travis Howard, both of which were likely to be weekend starters, suffered season-ending injuries.
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