Posted: May 20, 2018
SPOKANE, Wash. – Santa Clara baseball got off to a quick start hitting four extra base hits in the first two innings to take a 3-0 lead and beat Gonzaga, 4-3, behind Penn Murfee's career best outing on the mound to salvage the series in the season finale on Sunday. With the win, the Broncos (26-26, 12-15 WCC) finished the year with a .500 overall record for the first time since the 2008 squad that went 33-22.
The Broncos scored two runs on three consecutive doubles by Jason Dicochea (2-for-5, R), Joe Becht (2-for-4, R, RBI) and Jake Brodt (1-for-5, RBI) to start the game against Zags starting pitcher Mac Lardner, taking a lead for the first time in the weekend series.
For Brodt, it was his 54th double in his Bronco career, putting him third all-time on the Broncos career list alongside Jack Headley (2000-03). It was also the senior's 84th career extra base hit, putting him also in a third place tie on the all-time Broncos list with Troy Buckley (1987-89).
In the second, Jake MacNichols (1-for-4, R, RBI) went deep against Lardner for his eighth home run of the season to give the Broncos a 3-0 lead.
Senior Penn Murfee started on the bump for the Broncos and set career-highs with 7 2/3 innings and 10 strikeouts while giving up three runs, two earned, on 10 hits. Nine of the ten strikeouts were of the swing and miss variety. Murfee allowed a base runner in every inning except the sixth but kept the damage to a minimum.
The Zags scored its first run in the third on Branson Trube's RBI groundout with the bases loaded to cut the Broncos lead to 3-1.
After Austin Reyes pushed the Broncos lead back to three runs with an RBI single in the fourth, Gonzaga came back on Trube's RBI double to get within two runs again, 4-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, Murfee got two quick outs before giving up back-to-back singles to Jake Vieth and Nick Brooks prompting Broncos head coach Rusty Filter to go to the bullpen. Steven Wilson walked the first batter he faced, pinch-hitter Patrick Chung, to load the bases. A passed ball by Bronco catcher MacNichols allowed Vieth to score to make it a one run game. Wilson walked the second batter he faced to load the bases once again before retiring Carson Breshears to get out of the jam.
Wilson retired the side in the ninth to pick up his fourth save of the season in Santa Clara's 16th one-run game its played this season where the Broncos have won 11 of them. Murfee (6-3) earned the win for the Broncos while Lardner (6-3) took the loss for Gonzaga who will play in next week's WCC Tournament.
The Broncos pounded out 11 hits in the game with Niko Holm leading the way with three singles.
Sunday's game marked the final game of the 2018 season under first-year head coach Filter that saw a 13 game improvement in the win total over last season and three games in conference play.