Posted: Mar 29, 2018
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Leading 9-2 with the game seemingly in control, Santa Clara baseball gave up nine runs in the top half of the eighth and lost 11-9 to Portland in the West Coast Conference series opener.
In the eighth inning, Portland (9-15, 3-4 WCC) sent 13 batters to the plate against Bronco relievers Cade Negley and Eric Lex. The Pilots plated nine runs on seven hits, including four doubles, and two wild pitches. The game deciding hit came from the bat of Pilot third baseman Daniel Lopez who hit a bases clearing double against Lex to give Portland a 10-9 lead.
The Broncos (14-9, 3-4 WCC) raced to a 9-2 lead scoring four runs in the third inning, three runs in the sixth and two runs in the seventh. Jake MacNichols (2-for-4, 2 R, 4 RBIs) and Matt Smithwick (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBIs) combined to drive in all six runs for the Broncos. Santa Clara also got help in the scoring column on couple of defensive lapses by the Pilots.
Trailing 2-1 in the third, MacNichols hit a three-run homer scoring Evan Haberle (1-for-5, R) and Jake Brodt (2 R) to give the Broncos a 4-2 lead.
Santa Clara added three runs in the sixth to extend its lead to 7-2, including back-to-back doubles by Smith and MacNichols.
HIGHLIGHTS | Your updated home run counter for the season:— Santa Clara Baseball (@SCU_Baseball) March 30, 2018
Jake MacNichols - ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ @Matt_Smithwick - ⚾ ⚾ #SCUBroncos - ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ ⚾ (23 to lead @WCCSports)#StampedeTogether pic.twitter.com/hM0FsC08vl
The Broncos' last runs of the game came courtesy of Smithwick's opposite field two-run home run in the seventh to make it a 9-2 game before losing the lead in the top of the eighth inning.
Bronco starter Steven Wilson pitched a season-high five innings, scattering five hits and an earned run while striking six.
Joey Morris (1-0) picked up the win for Portland with Lex (2-2) taking the Bronco loss. Connor Knutson got his second save of the season putting down the Broncos in order in the ninth.
The second game of the series is at 6 p.m. PT on Friday with the Broncos sending right-hander Alex Waldsmith (0-2, 2.10 ERA) to the mound against Pilots left-hander Corbin Powers (3-3, 4.84 ERA).
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