Posted: Mar 23, 2018
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara baseball scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 5-4 come from behind win over Saint Mary's in the West Coast Conference home opener on Friday night.
Trailing 4-2, Joe Becht (1-for-4, R) led off the seventh inning with a triple, his third on the year, off Gaels starter Nick Frank who was cruising along scattering seven hits while striking out 10 Broncos through six frames.
Andre Nnebe (2-for-4, R, RBI) followed with an infield single scoring Becht to cut the Gaels lead to one, 4-3. Nnebe displayed his speed beating the throw by Saint Mary's shortstop Conor Thane on a seemingly routine groundball. The third batter, Jake Brodt (2-for-3, R), walked before Frank was lifted for lefty reliever Ty Madrigal.
Broncos head coach Rusty Filter countered sending right-handed hitter Austin Fisher to pinch hit for left-handed batter, Evan Haberle (1-for-3, R). Fisher drew a walk to load the bases prompting another Gaels' pitching change to Conner Loeprich.
With the bases loaded and no out, the Gaels righty threw a wild pitch with Jake MacNichols (1-for-3, R, RBI) at the plate, allowing Nnebe to score the tying run. MacNichols then hit a sacrifice fly to center, bringing home Brodt for the go ahead run.
Santa Clara got another strong outing from Penn Murfee out of the bullpen. The fifth-year transfer from Vanderbilt came in relief in the fourth after starter Steven Wilson gave up a two-run homer to Austin Chauvin that gave the Gaels a 3-0 lead.
Murfee gave up a single to the first batter he faced, Dylan Robertson. With runners at the corners, the Bronco side arm thrower fielded a bunt by Conor Thane and tossed it to catcher MacNichols to get the out at home. Murfee then struck out Joey Fiske to get out of the inning.
In the home half of the fourth, the Broncos answered back with two runs on four hits to cut Saint Mary's lead to 3-2.
The Gaels (10-8, 1-3 WCC) added a run in the fifth, the only run allowed by Murfee in his 4 2/3 innings for work to make it 4-2.
After the Broncos rally in the seventh to take the lead, Murfee pitched one more inning before turning it over to closer Eric Lex in the ninth.
Saint Mary's threatened in the ninth getting a runner in scoring position on a Santa Clara error but Lex struck out Fiske and Edward Haus to close out the game, earning his fifth save of the season.
Murfee (4-0) got the win for the Broncos with Frank (1-4) taking the loss.
The Broncos improved to 6-0 in one run games this season.
The second game of the series will be played on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT. Broncos will send right-hander Alex Waldsmith (0-2, 2.75 ERA) facing Gaels two-way righty Kevin Milam (3-0, 2.22 ERA).