The Broncos send off seniors with walk-off win in home finale
THE SANTA CLARA
May 19, 2016
The Broncos battled the Pilots and finished the weekend with a sweep, earning their first home series win since opening weekend.
The offense provided a dominant effort, leading the Broncos to a 9-5 Friday night win. The team compiled 17 hits, a new season best. The entire starting lineup for the Broncos recorded a hit, with seven getting two or more.
Steven Wilson took the hill and delivered a gem of a game, lasting six innings, surrendering two earned runs and striking out nine.
Max Kuhns recorded his fourteenth save of the season, breaking Santa Clara’s single season saves record.
“Everybody is just so sure that (Kuhn) is going to throw up zeros,” said Associate Head Coach Gabe Ribas. “His work ethic, the way he holds people accountable, it’s just awesome to watch and he’s one of my favorite kids to be around.”
Saturday night’s matchup quickly got off to a controversial start. With a runner on third, TC Florentine hit a ball right at the Pilots shortstop. The Pilots shortstop appeared to catch the ball then subsequently lost it seconds later. Initially, the play was ruled an error allowing the run to score. Following a meeting with Portland’s manager, the umpires conferenced and declared the play an out, nullifying the run. A frustrated Broncos Head Coach Dan O’Brien appeared from the dugout, but his argument fell on deaf ears.
The next inning, Portland’s Cooper Hummel reached on a play to second base, in which the umpire deemed a covering Mitchell White off the base. Once again O’Brien emerged from the dugout to plead his case, but was swiftly ejected.
But even without his skipper, White delivered the best start of his collegiate career, surrendering one earned run while striking out 15 Pilots (a career high) in his complete game effort. “I just had three pitches working,” White said. “I was throwing both my off-speed for strikes and I was able to attack the zone with my fastball, getting ahead and staying ahead.”
The Broncos offense delivered 11 hits and five walks, en route to nine runs. Tyler Meditz had a highly productive day at the plate going 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs. Cortopassi delivered three hits of his own.
With the series win locked, the Broncos looked for the sweep Sunday and delivered a thrilling 6-5 extra inning win. Jason Seever delivered a solid outing for the Broncos, pitching 5.1 innings, while allowing three earned runs.
The game was tied at 4-4 heading into the 8th, when Portland took the lead off a solo home run. The Broncos were down to their final out in the bottom of the 9th. After a 7 pitch 3-2 count, Matt Smithwick hit a towering infield popup. Miraculously Smithwick’s pop-up landed in between Portland’s first and second baseman, for a questionably ruled double. The next batter Kert Woods capitalized on the situation, driving Smithwick home on a single to centerfield, for a 5-5 score to push extra innings.
Following a second perfect inning of relief by Kuhns, the Broncos were in prime situation for a walk-off win. In the bottom of the tenth, the Broncos first two hitters both reached base followed by an intentional walk. John Cresto recorded the first out of the inning, reaching on a fielder’s choice, with the Pilots picking up the out at home. That brought up Stevie Berman, who smacked Marty Luckenbach’s offering up the middle of the infield for a walk off single.
“I think that was my third time facing him, so I knew what he was trying to do to us,” Berman said. “The slider was one of his best pitches, so I was sitting on that. He got ahead early in the count and I was just not trying to do too much and hit the ball in play. Things fell my way and we got a good win.”
The Broncos travel to Utah this weekend for the final WCC series vs Brigham Young University.
Contact Brent Hanower at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.