Baseball goes undefeated to win Irish Baseball Classic
THE SANTA CLARA
February 27, 2014
The Santa Clara baseball squad proved to be the best team to take the field this weekend at the Irish Baseball Classic in San Antonio, Texas. The Broncos won all four of their games over the four day competition to capture the tournament title and improved their record to 5-4 on the young season.
Senior Greg Harisis had a hand in the team’s success over the weekend. He was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament as well as West Coast Conference Player of the Week.
“Those titles just mean I did my job for the team and got on base for the other guys and got the offense going,” said Harisis. “We have an awesome bunch of guys.”
Santa Clara Head Coach Dan O’Brien wasn’t too surprised with the senior’s output.
“What (Harisis) did this weekend is just what he does,” said O’Brien. “He plays carefree baseball, doesn’t try too hard and just lets the game come to him. He’s a really great player.”
Santa Clara journeyed to Texas after finishing its opening week of play with a 1-4 record.
“We worked on ignoring the noise and focusing on what we were doing,” said O’Brien. “We know we’re a good team and that good things can happen when we play how we should. That’s what happened this weekend.”
In the Broncos’ first matchup of the tournament against the Fighting Irish from the University of Notre Dame, senior D.J. Zapata pitched a complete game in his second start for the season and recorded a career-high eight strikeouts.
Santa Clara was first on the board in the third inning, but Notre Dame came back in the sixth.
The following afternoon, Santa Clara thrashed the University of the Incarnate Word 16-3 in its second game of the tournament.
After four innings of action, the Broncos led 3-1. In the later portion of the game, the Broncos exploded for 12 runs over the eighth and ninth innings to put the Cardinals away.
Saturday’s game against the University of Gonzaga was more challenging for the Broncos.
Despite scoring first, Santa Clara fell behind the Bulldogs after the fifth inning, trailing 2-1. Tournament MVP Harisis brought Santa Clara back with an RBI double to score sophomore Jose Vizcaino Jr. in the seventh, tying the game at 2.
With bases loaded in the next inning, Santa Clara senior Casey Munoz hit an RBI to give the Broncos the lead and the eventual win.
With three days of challenges and triumphs behind them, the Broncos set their sights on the tournament championship matchup against Notre Dame on Sunday.
The game put the team’s focus on positivity in the face of adversity to the test.
Notre Dame hit the base paths fast, scoring three runs in the first inning and another in the second. The Broncos responded with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning, tying the score and keeping them in the contest.
Senior Zach Looney doubled to left field to bring Harisis home in the fourth inning to once again answer a score by Notre Dame.
Santa Clara scored again in the fifth inning and stepped it up offensively in the sixth to take command. With the bases loaded in the bottom half of the inning, Kuhns singled to left field, allowing freshman Stevie Berman to score. The very next at-bat, freshman Kyle Czaplak scored Quinton Perry on a ground out.
Notre Dame scored one more run, but it would not be enough. The Broncos left the diamond with an 8-7 win and a championship trophy.
The Irish Classic Tournament proved to be a testament not only to the Broncos’ performance but also to their positive attitude.
“We wanted to focus on our game regardless of who we were playing and just enjoy the opportunity to play somewhere new,” said Looney. “Even when there were mistakes or something went wrong, the guys picked each other up.”
The Broncos continue their road trip with a visit to Surprise, Ariz. this weekend to compete in the College Baseball Classic. Santa Clara throws out its first pitch today against Arizona State University.
Contact Sydney Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.