Baseball Team Report: SCU-Princeton This Weekend

Baseball Team Report: SCU-Princeton This Weekend

March 25, 2010

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara Broncos begin a 13-game homestand this weekend, keeping the team on campus until the middle of April. Stephen Schott Stadium, the Broncos' state-of-the-art facility, will be the site of three consecutive weekend series, beginning March 26-28 vs. Princeton, followed by the initiation of 2010 West Coast Conference play April 1-3 vs. Portland, then Pepperdine April 9-11.

Princeton (4-10) @ Santa Clara (8-10)
March 26-28 | Stephen Schott Stadium | Santa Clara, Calif.
Friday 6 p.m. | Saturday DH 1 p.m./5 p.m. | Sunday 1 p.m.

FRI - RH Nate Garcia (1-4, 7.76 ERA) vs. RH Dan Barnes (1-0; 2.03 ERA)
SAT (1)- RH Alex Rivers (1-3, 5.50 ERA) vs. LH David Palms (1-1; 0.47)
SAT (2) - RH Jon Hughes (2-1, 7.76 ERA) vs. LH Langford Stuber (0-1; 10.43 ERA)
SUN - RH Chris Mendoza (1-0; 4.32 ERA) vs. RH Zak Hermans (0-1; 10.66 ERA)

The SCU offense continues to give the Broncos a chance to win each time out. Five everyday players hit over .345 and the team's seven runs per game are best in the league. The Broncos dropped 3-of-4 at San Diego State last weekend, avoiding a sweep thanks to a complete-game from freshman righty Chris Mendoza (1-0; 4.32 ERA) in the series finale. SCU squandered leads in two of the losses at San Diego State, allowing big innings in the later stages of games they led. Phenomenal season-starts from 1B Curtis Wagner (.466 BA) and UT Tommy Medica (.400 BA) in the No. 2 and 3 spots in the lineup and six others who are hitting over .300 make SCU a fun team to watch.

The Tigers were 10-10 in the Ivy League last season, good for 3rd place and finished 18-19 overall behind a deep group of experienced players. However, its 2010 team is extremely young, beginning the year with only four players having 50 collegiate at-bats. 13th-year head coach Scott Bradley took his team to play his alma mater, No. 17 North Carolina, earlier this year and his Tigers were out-scored 37-6 in two games. More recently the Tigers split four games at Navy. Princeton his hitting .243 collectively, slugs just .336 and scores 4.5 runs per game. The front end of the their rotation, RH Dan Barnes (1-0; 2.03 ERA) and LH David Palms (1-1; 0.47) have both limited opposing batters to sub-.300 batting averages through three starts this season.

Princeton and Santa Clara have never played.

Look for staff ace senior RH Nate Garcia (1-4, 7.76 ERA) to bounce back from tough loss at San Diego State - allowing six runs in the fifth inning of a game he led 3-1. Garcia is a two-time First Team All-WCC pitcher who led the league in strikeouts in 2009 and already has 32 K's in just 29 innings this season. Garcia's senior classmate RH Alex Rivers (1-3, 5.50 ERA) received no run support in his weekend start at SDSU and lost his second straight. Garcia and Rivers give SCU one of the most experienced 1-2 pitching combinations in college baseball. The pair has combined to make 72 career starts. In the back-end of the Broncos rotation are two freshmen. Both from the Bay Area, high school All-America RH Jon Hughes (2-1, 7.76 ERA) and RH Chris Mendoza (1-0; 4.32 ERA) have been impressive at times, giving SCU depth and optimism heading into conference play next week.

The SCU bullpen is 3-2 with a collective ERA of 6.66 and has saved three games. Senior RH Steve Kalush (2-0; 3.48 ERA) continues to be the go-to arm in key late-inning situations, while RH J.R. Graham (2 SV, 3.86 ERA) has been used as the closer. Four different SCU relievers had scoreless outings in San Diego, including freshman Brock Simon (0-0; 7.75 ERA) who worked three scoreless innings of two-hit ball in Saturday night's opener. Sophomore RH Paul Twining (0-0; 6.52 ERA) leads the staff in appearances with nine - all in relief.

The Broncos possess the best offense in the WCC and four of the league's top 10 batters. Fourteen times in 18 games SCU has generated 10+ hits. 1B Curtis Wagner (.466 BA) and UT Tommy Medica (.400 BA) have both scored 20 runs apiece and have combined to total 66 hits in 18 games. That's just Wagner and Medica. Preseason All-America catcher Geoff Klein (.347 BA) is the reigning WCC batting champ. Outfielders Pat Stover (.356 BA) and Lucas Herbst (.353 BA) have added nine extra-base hits. SCU is deep offensively. Stover, Herbst, and fellow underclassman SS Justin Viele (.316 BA) are threats surrounding the proven bats of Wagner, Medica and Klein in the heart of the order.

Santa Clara University head baseball coach and Bay Area native Mark O'Brien, entered the year owning 218 career victories, just the third coach in SCU's 125-year baseball history to reach the 200-win milestone. O'Brien has served as an assistant at Stanford and Cal Poly SLO and played his collegiate baseball at San Jose State. He signed a multi-year contract extension at Santa Clara in 2008 after leading the Broncos to their best season in more than a decade. O'Brien's 2008 squad twice beat NCAA Champion Fresno State University en route to posting a 33-22 overall record. 2008 highlights included: 10 All-WCC selections, an All-America honoree and six players signing professional contracts.

O'BRIEN NOTES: 22 MLB Draft picks in eight seasons at Santa Clara... 26 future MLB players coached by O'Brien... 28 All-Americans... 9 Bronco All-Americans... 43 All-WCC Selections... 3rd coach in Santa Clara's 125-year baseball history to... reach 200+ wins... 3 College World Series... 3-straight top-40 recruiting classes at Cal Poly... 2 WCC Batting Champs... 1 WCC MVP... 1 WCC `Freshman of the Year'... 1 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American.

L, 6-5 vs. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (3/11)
W, 8-7 vs. AIR FORCE (3/13)
L, 8-7 vs. UC DAVIS (3/13)
W, 12-11 vs. SOUTHERN ILLINIOS (3/14)
L, 7-5 @ San Diego State (3/20)
L, 7-0 @ San Diego State (3/21)
L, 13-6 @ San Diego State (3/22)
W, 5-1 @ San Diego State (3/23)
ALBANY (3/30)

The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission has added ten catchers to the official watch list for the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award delivered by Papa John's Pizza, including Santa Clara University senior catcher Geoff Klein. The award - given the nation's top collegiate catcher - will be announced after the season. Klein, the 2009 co-West Coast Conference batting champion, is off to a great start in 2010. As of March 22, Klein is batting .343 with 18 RBI and three homers. He was named the WCC `Player of the Week' on March 15 after earning all-tournament honors at the Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament in Silicon Valley.

Santa Clara catchers Geoff Klein and Tommy Medica have both won West Coast Conference batting titles - Klein doing so as a junior in 2009, hitting .379 with 21 doubles. Medica won the WCC batting crown during a phenomenal freshman season in 2007 when he hit .373 and earned Collegiate Baseball `Louisville Slugger' Freshman All-America honors.

Santa Clara University baseball upperclassmen Tommy Medica and Geoff Klein were named honorable mention preseason All-America catchers by Ping!Baseball, the online publication announced today. Medica - who has fully recovered from a shoulder injury which kept him sidelined in 2009 - returns for his redshirt junior season as one of the nation's most accomplished collegiate catchers. The San Jose native and Bellarmine College Preparatory alumnus played for the USA National Team in 2007 following an All- America season as a true freshman. Klein took over the catching duties for Medica last season and turned in one of the best offensive seasons in Santa Clara's 125-year baseball history. Klein won the 2009 West Coast Conference batting crown, hitting .379 with 21 doubles. Klein owns a .343 career batting average, which ranks 8th all-time in the SCU record books. Another WCC standout was tabbed for 2010 preseason All-American honors. After winning the Triple Crown last year, Saint Mary's Troy Channing was tabbed a Louisville Slugger preseason second team All-American and was ranked No. 6 on the power rankings for third basemen.

Portland (12-6)
San Diego (12-10)
San Francisco (11-11)
Gonzaga (9-11)
LMU (9-11)
Santa Clara (8-10)
Saint Mary's (6-9)
Pepperdine (6-13)

SAN FRANCISCO at UC Santa Barbara (3)
Albany NY at LMU (4)
Stony Brook at PEPPERDINE (3)
Southern Utah at PORTLAND (3)
UC Riverside at SAINT MARY'S (3)
SAN DIEGO at #10 Coastal Carolina (3)
GONZAGA at Utah Valley (3)