PORTLAND, ORE. – Santa Clara baseball lost 7-5 to Portland on Friday night in its first road game of West Coast Conference play. The Broncos led 4-0 after two innings but were unable to maintain the lead, allowing the Pilots to score in five of the last six innings.
Santa Clara (5-20, 1-3 WCC) freshman right-handed pitcher Grant Nechak came on in relief and was handed the loss. Portland (5-20, 1-6 WCC) reliever Jordan Horak earned the win for the Pilots, throwing 2.2 innings, allowing just one run. Marty Luckenbach recorded his second save of the season, going 1.1 scoreless innings for Portland. David Kopas had a big day at the plate for the Pilots, going 3-for-5 with three runs batted in.
To start things off for the Broncos, freshman center fielder Andre Nnebe reached on a fielder's choice in the first inning and was driven home on an RBI double by redshirt freshman designated hitter Ryan McCarthy. SCU added to its one-run lead in the second as freshman second baseman Zach Walsh started the inning with his second-career home run. After a single and an error, junior right fielder Grant Meylan singled to score freshman catcher Jake MacNichols. Sophomore third baseman hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score junior shortstop Austin Fisher and put SCU up 4-0.
Redshirt sophomore Eric Lex, the starting pitcher for the Broncos, gave up three runs in the bottom of the third inning. He allowed two singles and hit a batter to load the bases. Lex then walked in a run and allowed a two-run single by Devin to cut the lead to 4-3.
Portland tied the score in the fourth inning after Lex walked the bases loaded. Nechak then replaced Lex on the mound. The Pilots tied the game on a sacrifice fly but Nechak limited the damage by recording the final two outs.
Michael Forgione started the bottom of the sixth inning off for Portland by drawing a walk. He then stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error. Chris Arpan singled to give Portland a 5-4 lead on an unearned run.
Brodt hit a leadoff double to start the top of the seventh inning for the Broncos. He was bunted over to third base by McCarthy and was then driven home on a sacrifice fly by senior left fielder Tyler Meditz to tie things up at five. The Broncos were just 3-of-18 on the night with runners on base, leaving eight runners stranded.
The lead flipped back to Portland in the bottom half of the inning. Once again, a Pilot batter that was walked came around to score. Cody Hawken drew the walk and then was driven home on an RBI double by Ryan Hoogerwerf to give Portland a 6-5 advantage. Santa Clara walked a total of eight batters and hit two others.
Portland added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Matt Kelly reached on a fielder's choice, stole second base and then advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Kopas doubled to score Kelly and give the Pilots a 7-5 lead.
Up Next: Santa Clara will play game two of the series on Saturday at 6 p.m. PT.
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