SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara baseball heads to St. Mary's for the final three-game set of the season for the Broncos. The series begins on Friday at 3 p.m. PT and ends on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT.
Games #51-53 | Away Games #17-19
Moraga, Calif. | Louis Guisto Field
All-Time Series: The Broncos lead the all-time series 161-116 in a matchup that dates back to 1883. The Gaels took two-of-three games against SCU at Stephen Schott Stadium in 2016.
Probable Starters (2017 Stats)
Friday, May 19 • 3 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Grant Nechak (2-6, 4.75 ERA) vs. SMC LHP Johnny York (5-3, 3.79 ERA)
Saturday, May 20 • 1 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Jacob Steffens (4-6, 4.66 ERA) vs. SMC RHP Jake Valdez (4-2, 3.58 ERA)
Sunday, May 21 • 1 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Eric Lex (3-8, 4.32 ERA) vs. SMC RHP Drew Strotman (5-1, 4.66 ERA)
Last Time Out
The Broncos lost in their final home game of the season on Wednesday night against Stanford by a score of 15-9. John Cresto hit a three-run home run, his 11th of the season. Niko Holm went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in a run and Matt Smithwick recorded two runs batted in as well.
Santa Clara earned a series win against Pacific in its final three-game set of the season at Stephen Schott Stadium last weekend. The Broncos won 5-3 on Friday with Jake Brodt driving in all five runs for SCU and Grant Nechak earning the win on the mound. Saturday's 7-2 win saw Jacob Steffens earn his fourth complete-game victory of the season as he struck out nine batters. Pacific won the series finale on Senior Day by a score of 6-2.
Santa Clara (13-37, 9-15 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 .302. He has started every game this season and has recorded 61 hits including eight doubles and three home runs while driving in 22 runs. He leads the team in stolen bases with 10 (on 13 attempts) and has recorded 143 putouts and six 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 second-best ERA on the team at 2.97.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Alonzo Billips, who hails from Los Angeles, California, has made 11 appearances out of the bullpen for Santa Clara and thrown 13.2 innings for an ERA of 3.95. He earned two wins at Pepperdine and is now 2-0 for his collegiate career. Billips also picked up his first collegiate save against Pacific. He has allowed six earned runs (nine total) and 14 hits while striking out five batters.
Catcher Jake MacNichols, a freshman from Napa, California, went deep in his first collegiate at-bat on Feb. 18. He has started 28 games this season (appeared in 39) and has hit five home runs. MacNichols also has 215 putouts and 35 assists for a .973 fielding percentage. Opposing baserunners have been caught stealing by MacNichols on 13 occasions this year, the second-best mark in the WCC.
Broncos in the Field
Sophomore third baseman John Cresto, a 2016 WCC All-Freshman Team member, is hitting .315, which is the second-best mark on the squad. He is second on the team and is tied for seventh in the league in doubles with 16. Cresto has also hit 11 home runs on the season, which is the most on the team and tied for the fifth-best total in the WCC. He is second on the squad in runs driven in with 28.
Junior Jake Brodt has made 139 starts in his career, playing primarily at first base. Brodt has the No. 1 batting average on the club at .332 and has recorded 68 hits. He is second in the West Coast Conference and tied for 35th in the nation with 19 doubles (0.39 per game). Brodt will crack the SCU all-time top-10 list for doubles in a single season if he reaches 20. His 33 runs batted in are the most on the squad and he is tied for second on the club with five home runs.
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 eight doubles and five home runs while driving in 21 runs on the year. He has 105 putouts as the starting left fielder and two assists.
Junior designated hitter Niko Holm recovered from a slow start at the plate to have the best on-base percentage on the squad at .437 and the No. 4 batting average at .299. He has been walked 24 times and hit by a pitch 13 times on the season. His 13 times being hit by a pitch is a top-50 mark in the nation. The junior has recorded 43 hits (140 at-bats), including eight doubles, a triple, two home runs and 10 runs batted in on the year.
Junior second baseman Evan Haberle has a batting average of .276 on the year. He has made 30 starts (played in 40 games) on the season and has recorded 27 hits in 98 at-bats. Haberle has recorded three doubles, a triple and two home runs for SCU while driving in 15 runs. He also has an on-base percentage of .403, drawing 19 walks and reaching base via hit-by-pitch on two occasions.
Junior shortstop Austin Fisher has started in 38 games for SCU and been very steady for the Broncos. He's recorded 59 putouts and 105 assists for a .965 fielding percentage. He has recorded 25 hits at the plate including two doubles, a triple and two home runs while driving in 12 runs and scoring 16 himself. He's also walked 13 times and been hit by a pitch once.
Santa Clara is third in the WCC in home runs (45) and home runs per game (0.90) on the season with 13 different student-athletes hitting those home runs.
Broncos on the Mound
Redshirt senior RHP Jacob Steffens stepped into the starting rotation after being a relief pitcher in 2016 (recovering from Tommy John). He is 4-6 on the year with a save and a 4.66 ERA. 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 and earned his third complete-game victory of the season at Pepperdine (April 30). In his final start at Stephen Schott Stadium against Pacific (May 13), Steffens earned his fourth complete-game victory, allowing just two earned runs while striking out nine batters. He has thrown 94.2 innings, allowing 49 earned runs (58 runs total) while striking out 93 batters. His 93 Ks rank as the No. 33 mark in the nation and No. 3 in the conference. Steffens is also sixth in the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 4.65.
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 3-8 on the year with a 4.32 ERA in 77.0 innings pitched. He has recorded 68 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 11 starts on the year and 17 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. Nechak earned his second collegiate win against Pacific (May 12) with an impressive outing where he threw 8.0 innings and allowed just four hits and three earned runs. The 6-4 right-handed pitcher is 2-6 on the year and has thrown 66.1 innings with a 4.75 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.
The Gaels boast a 34-18 record and are 15-9 in the West Coast Conference. St. Mary's has an ERA of 4.34 while scoring 6.1 runs per game, the No. 3 mark in the league. Zach Kirtley has been walked 42 times on the season, the No. 21 mark in the nation. Edward Haus has hit 19 doubles on the year, tied for the 35th-best mark in the country. He has the top batting average on the team at .330 with a .507 slugging percentage.
Connect with the Broncos on Social Media