Santa Clara’s losing streak at five games after rough weekend
The Santa Clara
March 2, 2017
After dropping all three games of the Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament, Santa Clara heads into their next slate of non-conference action at 1-6. Santa Clara opened the tournament against a winless Creighton University team with a confident Jake Steffens on the mound.
In the opening half-inning, Creighton got a runner across first after a hit batter, single and passed ball. As Steffens settled in and started to mow down the Creighton line-up, the Broncos were unable to provide run support. Santa Clara was constantly stranding runners on-base— ultimately finishing the game just 1-14 at the plate with runners on base and 13 strikeouts.
The bats remained silent until the bottom half of the seventh inning when John Cresto tied things up with a solo home run.
Stephens was fabulous again—striking out nine and giving up one earned run over 7.1 innings – before being replaced by Brandon Buckley. Buckley continued his bright start to the season—stranding a runner on third in the eighth inning by striking out the last two batters for the final outs.
After leaving yet another base runner stranded at second in the bottom half of the eighth inning, Creighton added a run against first-year Bryson Spagnuolo in the ninth inning to take a 3-1 lead. Spagnuolo, along with most of the bullpen, has struggled mightily this year, allowing nine earned runs over five innings pitched.
David Gerber shut the door in the ninth inning and Creighton held on 3-1. The win was Creighton’s first of the season.
Redshirt sophomore Eric Lex was looking to build off his 1-0 start to the season in the second game of the tournament when the Broncos squared off against the Saint Louis Billikens. His solid form did not carry over from his first start against Washington, as right from the beginning Lex struggled with his control. In the top of the second inning, Lex walked a Billikens batter with the bases loaded to give Saint Louis an early 1-0 lead. Lex’s pitch count kept rising and he was replaced after throwing 98 pitches through just four innings. Lex only gave up one run and struck out seven, but walked five batters.
In the top of the seventh the Billikens added another run on a sac fly following a triple off of Spagnuolo. In the bottom half, Santa Clara cut the lead back to one following an RBI single from junior second baseman Evan Haberle.
Saint Louis got two runs in the eighth and one in ninth, which proved enough to hold off a late two run rally from the Broncos in the final half inning. The Billikens took it 5-3.
The tournament finale against the University of Michigan was a painfully slow game and served as another reminder of one of Santa Clara’s biggest issues – inefficient starts from their pitchers.
In a lengthy first inning, Santa Clara first-year starter Grant Nechak walked in the first run of the game with the bases loaded. Nechak was erratic and threw 95 pitches in just three innings of work. He gave up three runs in the afternoon.
The difference in the game was the bullpen. Michigan got solid work from their bullpen – which gave up only two runs in the final 7.2 innings.
Senior outfielder Tyler Meditz got the Broncos back within a run in the fifth inning with a solo shot, but from then on it was all Wolverines. Michigan scored seven runs in the last three innings and won in a blowout 10-3.
“This team needs to improve in many areas, including increased strike percentage and quality at bat percentage with runners in scoring position,” Coach Dan O’Brien said. “That said, it’s important to remember that we have a lot of new faces to not only to Bronco Baseball, but to college baseball as well.”
In order for the Broncos to turn it around they will need to get contributions from players other than their steady performers: Jake Steffens, John Cresto, Tyler Meditz, and Brandon Buckley.
Contact Ben Epstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.