Pepperdine takes two of three from Broncos during homestand
THE SANTA CLARA
April 14, 2016
Santa Clara took only one of three games from Pepperdine over the weekend as the team continues to struggle in West Coast Conference play.
Entering the series, three things stood out. The first was Pepperdine’s dominant Friday night starter A.J. Puckett. Puckett, who was off to a 4-2 start with a 1.53 era, was ranked the fifth best prospect in the WCC by Baseball America.
Second, the batting power in the Pepperdine lineup. Prior to the series, Pepperdine hit 24 home runs (while only surrendering 14), led by Manny Jefferson’s six and five from Brad Anderson.
Finally, a downpour rolling through the South Bay Area altered the weekend plans. Due to the rain, Friday’s game was moved to Sunday as part of a doubleheader.
The Waves, who are the defending WCC tournament champions, entered the series 13-14 (4-5 in the WCC). The Broncos also entered 13-14, though 2-4 in WCC play. Mitchell White, the Broncos ace, pitched the Saturday game through a constant drizzle. White allowed four earned runs in 7.2 innings, and recorded 12 strikeouts. A.J. Puckett pitched eight shutout innings, in which he struck out seven Waves. The Broncos only mustered four hits, two off the bat of TC Florentine. The Broncos dropped the opener 7-1.
The Broncos and Waves started off the Sunday doubleheader at 11 a.m. Steven Wilson, off to a solid 2-1 start with a 2.23 ERA, began the game.
The Waves turned to Max Gamboa, making his first start of the year after 11 relief appearances. Wilson pitched 5.1 innings, allowed four earned runs and struck out five.
Gamboa got off to a shaky start in the bottom of the first. Gamboa walked leadoff hitter Kyle Cortopassi and then Grant Meylan. Stevie Berman singled to center field, plating Cortopassi. Florentine continued where he left off, singling in Meylan, for a early 2-0 lead. Wilson surrendered one home run in the second, a solo shot off the bat of Ben Rodriguez, making it 2-1.
The Broncos added two more runs in the bottom of the third. Gamboa hit both Meylan and Berman to lead the inning off. Jake Brodt worked a 3-2 count, before singling in the two runners for a 4-1 Bronco lead.
The Waves clawed back, scoring two runs in the fifth. Wilson worked a 2-2 count before Aaron Barnett took his offering to right field for a two run double, 4-3. The Broncos added a run of their own in the bottom of the fifth. TC Florentine scored on a wild pitch by reliever Max Green, pushing the Bronco lead to 5-3.
The Waves added their final run of the game in the sixth. Wilson went out for the sixth, and walked Jefferson to lead off the inning. After recording an out, Nick Medeiros relieved Wilson, who induced a foul out to right field, which then allowed Jefferson to score.
Jake Steffens provided two scoreless innings out of the Broncos’ bullpen. Broncos closer Max Kuhns closed the game out with his tenth save of the season to clinch a 5-4 Broncos win.
“I was commanding my fastball pretty well, defense was making plays behind me. I was able to get my slider over for a strike,” he said. “The early run support is always good, it just makes it earlier as a pitcher. You just get in that shut down mindset, where these guys aren’t going to score again. Unfortunately, I gave up a couple of runs later on but still was able to do enough.”
The Broncos dropped the second game of the double header 10-7. They scored six runs in the first inning, including a grand slam by Tyler Meditz. The Waves were led by another Anderson homerun and two more from Jefferson’s bat. Jason Seever pitched 5.1 innings out of the bullpen, while allowing three runs. His three home runs in the series set him up to win WCC Player Of The Week.
Florentine spoke of his solid hitting of late, “just focusing on the pitches I’ve been working on. They’ve been working me similar pitches and constantly recording that and working that in the cages and on the field bp. It’s been helping me on the field everyday, and it’s a continual grind to make sure I do that everyday in my routine,” he said.
Santa Clara travels to San Diego to face the Toreros this weekend. Torero shortstop, Bryson Brigman, who is tearing the cover off the ball with a .380 average, is Baseball America’s second best prospect in the WCC. USD’s pitching staff has not been as hot with a combined 5.69 ERA. The Broncos pitches, for comparison, feature a 3.77 ERA.
Contact Brent Hanower at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.