Strong pitching from the Broncos help win weekend series
THE SANTA CLARA
April 30, 2015
You can learn a lot about a team when they’re winning, but how they respond after a tough loss is even more telling. The Broncos’ rebound against Gonzaga University spoke volumes about the promising future of Santa Clara baseball.
After falling to the Bulldogs 14-1 in their first outing, the Broncos bounced back, gaining 5-2 and 6-5 wins in the next two games.
Junior Reece Karalus got the start for the Broncos in the series opener, and was absolutely dominant. Karalus allowed two runs over seven innings, and struck out 11 Bulldogs. But Karalus was still in line for the loss when he walked off the mound, as Santa Clara only managed a single run.
Gonzaga’s bats exploded in the eighth for seven runs, putting the game out of reach. After five more runs in the ninth, the Bulldogs secured the 14-1 lead.
With the loss on Friday night, the Broncos had dropped five games in a row.
Freshman Eric Lex got the start for the Broncos the next night, and found himself in a jam early on. With one out, Gonzaga had a man on second when Lex allowed a single through the right side of the infield. Right fielder Grant Meylan charged the ball and made a perfect throw to the plate to prevent a Bulldogs’ run.
“I thought Lex had an incredibly mature outing, considering he’s a freshman,” said Head Coach Dan O’Brien. “He just kept attacking the zone and used his defense. And our guys played great behind him.”
Gonzaga had its chances, but the Broncos were able to strike first with a Jake Brodt single. But the Bulldogs soon responded with two runs in the very next inning.
The Broncos regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth, and never looked back. Junior Jose Vizcaino Jr. led off the inning with a single, and advanced to third on two straight balks. Vizcaino came around to score on a T.J. Braff sacrifice, and another Brodt RBI gave Santa Clara the 3-2 lead.
Lex lasted five innings for the Broncos, and Max Kuhns was called on to take care of the middle innings. Kuhns was brilliant, throwing three perfect innings.
“We needed somebody to step up in the bullpen, and that’s exactly what (Kuhns) did,” O’Brien said. “And he deserved to be the player of the game.”
The Broncos padded their lead with two more runs, one in both the fifth and seventh innings. After Mitchell White recorded his first career save, the Broncos secured the 5-2 win.
Invigorated after Saturday’s win, the Broncos started Sunday’s game with four runs in the first inning.
“It was crucial to get that four spot right away,” said outfielder T.C. Florentine. “It put us in a good mood right away for the rest of the game.”
Florentine tallied his first of two RBI’s of the game in that first inning. Stevie Berman, Brodt and Braff also drove in a run in the Broncos’ early rally.
“That really was the game,” O’Brien said. “We ended up scoring more runs in that first inning than we have in a while. We’re all about setting the tone.”
Evan Brisentine gave the Broncos a solid outing, surrendering just two runs over four innings. Gonzaga again had their chances in the early innings, but some diving stops and clutch double plays by the Broncos’ defense preserved their lead.
Nick Medeiros took over for Brisentine in the fifth and allowed one run over 2.2 innings. Medeiros found himself in a jam with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, which made Coach O’Brien call on Kuhns again. Kuhns delivered once more, throwing 1.1 more innings of perfect baseball.
Santa Clara had a 6-3 lead heading into the ninth, and White had the opportunity to record his second save in as many days. He didn’t get out of the inning unscathed, but he did get the job done.
“The closer job is all about composure,” O’Brien said. “(White) was tested and he kept his composure. And that’s what a closer does. He’s going to be a big time pitcher.”
With the 6-5 victory, the Broncos built some momentum heading into the final stretch of the season.
On Tuesday night, Santa Clara took on University of California, Davis at home.
The Broncos fell 9-7 after allowing the Aggies to score six runs in the seventh inning. Before the disastrous inning, Santa Clara led the game 6-3.
Steven Wilson started at the mound for the Broncos and Berman was the most productive hitter, going 4-5 with a double, RBI and two runs scored.
Braff added three RBIs and a run scored. Through the first five innings, the Broncos had four different players registering hits. It was not enough to overcome a rough seventh at Stephen Schott Stadium.
Next, Santa Clara will travel to Saint Mary’s College this weekend.
Contact Andrew Slap at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.