SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara baseball will resume West Coast Conference action this weekend with a three-game series at Pepperdine that begins on Friday at 3 p.m. PT. The Broncos then return to Stephen Schott Stadium for a game on Monday at 3 p.m. PT against No. 12/13 Arizona.
Games #40-43 | Away Games #14-16 | Home Game #27
Malibu, Calif. | Eddy D. Field Stadium | Santa Clara, Calif. | Stephen Schott Stadium
All-Time Series: The Waves lead the all-time series over the Broncos 103-60-2 in a series that dates back to 1960. Arizona and SCU have not played since 1985 and the Wildcats lead the all-time series 5-1.
Probable Starters (2017 Stats)
Friday, April 28 • 3 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Grant Nechak (1-5, 4.72 ERA) vs. PEPP LHP Ryan Wilson (2-4, 3.53 ERA)
Saturday, April 29 • 3 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Eric Lex (3-6, 3.84 ERA) vs. PEPP RHP Jonathan Pendergast (4-4, 4.83 ERA)
Sunday, April 30 • 1 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Jacob Steffens (2-5, 5.43 ERA) vs. PEPP RHP Wil Jensen (2-5, 3.55 ERA)
Monday, May 1 • 3 p.m. PT
SCU LHP Alex Barden (0-2, 7.88 ERA) vs. ARIZ TBD
Last Time Out
The Broncos played at Stanford on Tuesday night at Sunken Diamond and lost by a score of 8-2. Freshman catcher Jake MacNichols hit his fifth home run of the season to give SCU an early 1-0 lead. Santa Clara won the opening game of the three-game series against San Francisco last weekend by a score of 3-2 but lost the final two games, 4-2 and 12-7, respectively. Junior Niko Holm had a good week at the plate, going 5-for-8 with a double and two runs scored. Sophomore third baseman John Cresto hit .500 over the three game series with six hits including a double and his eighth home run of the season. Junior second baseman Evan Haberle continued his hot streak at the plate with five hits in 11 at-bats and three runs driven in.
Santa Clara (8-31, 4-11 WCC) 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 third-best batting average on the squad at .310. He has started every game this season and has recorded 49 hits including eight doubles and three home runs while driving in 20 runs, tied for the top mark on the squad. He has also recorded 97 putouts and four assists in the outfield.
Brandon Buckley, a freshman out of Kentfield, California, has been a bright spot for SCU out of the bullpen. He has made 16 appearances and pitched 33.1 innings, allowing 11 earned runs (17 runs total) and 24 hits while striking out 44 batters. He also has the best ERA on the team at 2.97.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Alonzo Billips, who hails from Los Angeles, California, has made six appearances out of the bullpen for Santa Clara and thrown 7.0 innings for a 3.86 ERA. He has allowed three earned runs (six total) and seven hits while striking out three batters.
Catcher Jake MacNichols, a freshman from Napa, California, went deep in his first collegiate at-bat on Feb. 18. He has started 26 games this season (appeared in 33) and has hit five home runs. MacNichols also has 206 putouts and 33 assists for a .972 fielding percentage. Opposing baserunners have been caught stealing by MacNichols on 13 occasions this year, the best mark in the WCC.
Broncos in the Field
Sophomore third baseman John Cresto, a 2016 WCC All-Freshman Team member, is hitting .327, which is the best mark on the squad. He is second on the team and is tied for fifth in the league in doubles with 14. Cresto has also hit eight home runs on the season, which is the most on the team and tied for the fifth-best total in the WCC. He is tied with Nnebe for the team lead in runs driven in with 20.
Junior Jake Brodt has made 128 starts in his career, playing primarily at first base. Brodt has the No. 5 batting average on the club at .285 and has recorded 45 hits. He is second in the West Coast Conference and tied for 28th in the nation with 16 doubles (0.41 per game).
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 .243 with four doubles and four home runs while driving in 16 runs on the year. He has 89 putouts as the starting left fielder.
Junior designated hitter Niko Holm recovered from a slow start at the plate to have the best on-base percentage on the squad at .448 and the No. 2 batting average at .321. Holm has been dialed in of late, recording 16 hits in his last 35 at-bats. He has been walked 17 times and hit by a pitch nine times on the season. The junior has recorded 34 hits (106 at-bats), including seven doubles, a triple, a home run and eight runs batted in on the year.
Junior second baseman Evan Haberle has seen the ball well at the plate lately for the Broncos, hitting .471 (16-for-34) in the last 11 games, raising his season batting average to .303. He has made 23 starts (played in 31 games) on the season and has recorded 23 hits in 76 at-bats. Haberle has recorded three doubles, a triple and two home runs for SCU while driving in 14 runs. He also has an on-base percentage of .424, drawing 14 walks and reaching base via hit-by-pitch on two occasions.
Junior shortstop Austin Fisher has started in 27 games for SCU and produced offensively and defensively. He's recorded 44 putouts and 71 assists for a .966 fielding percentage. He has recorded 15 hits at the plate including a double, a triple and two home runs while driving in seven runs and scoring 11 himself. He's also walked 10 times and been hit by a pitch once.
Santa Clara is third in the WCC in home runs (32) and home runs per game (0.82) on the season with 11 different student-athletes hitting those home runs.
Broncos on the Mound
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. Steffens threw another complete game at Portland (April 1), also striking out 11 batters. He has thrown 69.2 innings, allowing 42 earned runs (50 runs total) while striking out 72 batters. His 72 Ks rank as the No. 44 mark in the nation and No. 3 in the conference. Steffens is also fourth in the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 4.80.
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 3-6 on the year with a 3.86 ERA in 58.1 innings pitched. He has recorded 57 strikeouts, the seventh-best mark in the league. Lex threw a career-high 8.0 innings against San Francisco (April 21) and it was arguably the best outing of his career. He allowed six hits, two earned runs, did not walk a batter and struck out four.
Freshman Grant Nechak has made eight starts on the year and 14 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. He was handed the loss against San Francisco (April 22) but he had a strong outing, throwing 7.0 innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs (three total). He walked two batters and struck out four. The 6-4 right-handed pitcher is 1-5 on the year and has thrown 47.2 innings with a 4.72 ERA.
Santa Clara is third in the league in strikeouts per nine innings at 7.8.
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.
The Waves boast a 17-21 record with a 6-9 mark in league play. Pepperdine allows 4.26 earned runs per game and score 4.8 runs each game. As a team they have hit just 15 home runs on the year, the lowest total in the conference but they are third in the WCC in doubles per game at 1.95 (74 total). Aaron Barnett leads the team in batting average at .301 and is one of the toughest batters to strike out in the nation as he strikes out once every 17.0 at-bats.
The Arizona Wildcats are ranked No. 19 according to D1Baseball and No. 19 by Baseball America. The Wildcats have one of the best offenses in the nation, scoring 8.6 runs per game (No. 3 in nation), hitting .324 (No. 7 in nation), they hit 2.51 doubles per game (No. 3 in nation) and a .418 on-base percentage (No. 7 in nation). As a pitching staff, Arizona allows 4.29 earned runs per game. JJ Matijevic leads the country in doubles per game at 0.56 (22 total) and is eighth in batting average at .406.
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