SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara baseball split Saturday's doubleheader against Northwestern, losing 7-1 in the first game but winning 8-1 in the second. Freshman right-handed pitcher Grant Nechak earned his first collegiate win, throwing 7.0 innings without allowing an earned run. Freshman center fielder Andre Nnebe (3-4) and junior first baseman Jake Brodt (4-5) both had big days at the plate for the Broncos.
"We showed some resiliency today after a tough loss," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "The key to that was an outstanding performance on the mound by Grant (Nechak), who showed impressive resiliency himself after last week's start. It's fun to watch these guys grow and mature daily. That's the sign of a great group."
Game 1: Northwestern 7, SCU 1
Northwestern (1-8) jumped on SCU (3-7) early, scoring in second, third and fourth innings. Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Eric Lex suffered his second loss of the season. He threw six innings, allowed five runs (three earned) while striking out and walking four batters each.
Hank Christie threw a complete game for the Wildcats and was dominant on the mound, retiring 15 straight batters at one point. He allowed six hits and one earned run while striking out four batters and walking zero.
Joe Hoscheit singled to left field in the top of the third to score Matt Hopfner and give NU a 2-0 lead. The Wildcats tacked on to their lead in the fourth inning in an unconventional way. With two outs, Claeys walked, then advanced to second base on a wild pitch. He stole third base and then scored on a balk.
The Broncos' lone run of the game came in the bottom of the fourth inning when freshman catcher Jake MacNichols hit his third home run of the season. His solo shot was initially ruled foul by the third-base umpire but after a brief discussion, the home plate umpire overruled him.
Northwestern scored two more unearned runs in the sixth inning to extend the lead to 5-1. The Wildcats ended the game's scoring by adding two more runs on sophomore left-handed pitcher Alex Barden in the top of the ninth inning.
Game 2: SCU 8, Northwestern 1
Nechak earned the win in his third collegiate start and he was dialed in on the mound. The freshman allowed just four hits in his 7.0 innings pitched and struck out eight batters without allowing a single walk.
Nechak also had great run support from the get-go, with SCU scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning and two more in the second to give the freshman some breathing room.
Brodt started off his big day with a two-run home run to left center that scored senior left fielder Tyler Meditz. Nnebe began his day with a double down the left field line that scored junior designated hitter Niko Holm.
The Wildcats scored their lone run of the game in the top of the second inning when Hoscheit crossed home plate on an error.
Santa Clara responded with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the second inning to give Nechak a 5-1 lead to work with. The fourth run of the game came in a way that you rarely see in baseball. Sophomore third baseman John Cresto reached first base on an error. Brodt then made his second plate appearance of the game and homered to left field, however, there was a mishap on the base path and he passed Cresto between first base and second base. Therefore, Brodt was credited with an RBI single and ruled out at second base while Cresto was allowed to run home.
Later in the second, Holm reached base and was eventually driven home by Nnebe for his second RBI of the day.
SCU scored three more runs in the bottom of the sixth to cap off the day. Cresto singled to right field and drove home two runs and Brodt later hit him home for his fourth run batted in on the day.
Up Next: The series finale is set for 12 p.m. PT on Sunday at Stephen Schott Stadium.
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