Team completes the sweep in three straight victories
THE SANTA CLARA
February 26, 2015
The Broncos bounced back in convincing fashion after losing to the University of California, Davis on Feb. 17, sealing a weekend series sweep against the University of Cincinnati Bearcats.
“They knew what happened, they knew that they can’t let it happen again and they owned it,” said Head Coach Dan O’Brien about the loss to the Aggies. “What made this punch-back special was they held themselves accountable.”
Santa Clara seized control of the series, winning their home opener 11-3. Jake Steffens dominated, allowing two runs over seven strong innings. Steffens finished the game with a career-best 11 strikeouts.
On the offensive end, it was a team effort, with eight of the nine Broncos getting at least one hit. Santa Clara was able to knock out Cincinnati’s starter Andrew Zellner after just 1.2 innings.
Getting into the Bearcats’ bullpen early was a point of emphasis for Santa Clara.
“If we have quality at-bats and guys are really focused on hitting their pitch, then it elevates pitch counts pretty quickly,” O’Brien said.
The game remained close until the bottom of the seventh, when the Broncos’ bats exploded for six runs.
Santa Clara added two more runs in the eighth inning to put the game totally out of reach.
The next day, on their first game of the double-header, the Broncos continued to roll through.
Steven Wilson got the start, and found himself in an early jam. With nobody out and the bases loaded in the top of the first, Wilson struck out two straight and got a lineout to escape the inning unscathed.
Wilson ended up going six innings, giving up three runs. He walked off the mound with a 6-3 lead, but Cincinnati found some success against Santa Clara’s bullpen, driving in three runs in the seventh inning to tie the game.
The Broncos responded with four runs in the bottom of the seventh.
After an RBI single by second baseman Austin Fisher, Santa Clara had a 10-6 lead.
Cincinnati still wouldn’t concede defeat, scoring two more runs in the top of the eighth. Santa Clara brought in closer Reece Karalus with two outs in the eighth to complete the four-out save.
“(Karalus) is a warrior,” O’Brien said. “He’s one of the best competitors I’ve ever met. There’s no one I’d rather have in the game with the game on the line.”
After a brief 30-minute intermission, the Broncos faced Cincinnati again for the series finale.
Santa Clara put up three runs in the first inning, with back-to-back home runs by Vizcaino and Budnick.
“I kind of knew I got a little piece of it,” Vizcaino said. “But I thought it was pretty cool that Budnick came up next pitch and hit the home run, the back-to-back. Hopefully that’s the first one of many.”
Starter Peter Hendron pitched well for Santa Clara, giving up only two runs in six innings of work. The Broncos had an 8-2 lead heading into the ninth, but a late rally by Cincinnati kept it close. The Bearcats scored two runs before recording their first out, prompting Santa Clara to call on their closer.
Despite pitching earlier that day, Karalus came in to face Cincinnati’s best hitter, Ian Happ. A first team All-American, Happ was hitting .769 in the series before facing Karalus.
But Karalus was up for the challenge, striking out Happ.
“I was pretty proud of (Karalus) for getting that big out to end the game,” O’Brien said. “That was a big out to get to kill any momentum they might have.”
Another strike out by Karalus gave Santa Clara the series sweep.
“This weekend showed what we’re really made of,” Vizcaino said. “Nothing really better than a sweep at home.”
The Broncos look to continue their success this weekend, with a four game series against Eastern Michigan University.
Contact Andrew Slap at email@example.com .