SANTA CLARA, Calif. –Santa Clara baseball faces San Jose State on Wednesday in a mid-week matchup before resuming West Coast Conference action at Portland this weekend. Wednesday's 7 p.m. PT game at Municipal Stadium is the first two matchups this season against the Spartans. SCU will host SJSU on Tuesday, April 4 at 6 p.m. PT in the second matchup.
"Our goal is the same every day, to get better," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "Everyone wants to complicate it but it's about working harder, getting better and being tougher, that's all we can control. This team is doing that, every day, and that's the success story here."
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Game #24 | Away Game #5
San Jose, Calif. | Municipal Stadium
All-Time Series: Santa Clara boasts an all-time record of 131-87 against San Jose State in a series that dates back to 1936.
Probable Starters (2017 Stats)
Wednesday, March 29 • 7 p.m. PT
SCU RHP Bryson Spagnuolo (1-2, 11.95 ERA) vs. SJSU LHP Zach Wallace (0-0, 0.0 ERA in 5.0 IP)
Last Time Out
Santa Clara lost the three-game series to No. 23 San Diego, 2-1. However, the Broncos were able to win the series finale as freshman center fielder Andre Nnebe hit a walk-off home run to give the Broncos a 15-12 win over the Toreros. The win was the second of the season for the Broncos against a ranked opponent.
"In the face of adversity they ignore the noise, show up, work hard, stay positive and get better," O'Brien said. "You may not see it in the win loss column with such a young team playing a tough early schedule, but if you've been around them every day, or just experienced that dugout on Sunday, you'd beam with pride. I don't care what anybody says, these guys are a bunch of winners and their best baseball is in front of them."
Santa Clara (5-18) has 15 newcomers on the 2017 squad and many of them will play significant roles this season. "We really focused on getting humble, hard working, grinders," head coach Dan O'Brien said on Feb. 14 at Bay Area Baseball Media Day.
Nnebe, who hails from Oakland, California, is tied for the best batting average on the squad at .333. He has started every game this season and has recorded 30 hits including six doubles and three home runs while driving in 15 runs. He has also recorded 50 putouts and three assists in center field.
Brandon Buckley, a freshman out of Kentfield, California, has been a bright spot for SCU out of the bullpen. He has made 10 appearances and pitched 20.2 innings, allowing just seven earned runs (13 runs total) and 18 hits while striking out 31 batters. He also has the best ERA on the team at 3.05.
Catcher Jake MacNichols, a freshman from Napa, California, went deep in his first collegiate at-bat on Feb. 18. He has started 20 of the first 23 games and has hit three home runs on the year. MacNichols also has 155 putouts and 24 assists for a .968 fielding percentage. Opposing baserunners have been caught stealing by MacNichols on 11 occasions this year, the best mark in the WCC.
Broncos in the Field
Junior Jake Brodt has made 112 starts in his career, playing primarily at first base. Brodt is tied for the best batting average on the club at .333 and has recorded 30 hits (90 at-bats). He is fourth in the West Coast Conference and the leader on the team with eight doubles.
Sophomore infielder John Cresto, a 2016 WCC All-Freshman Team member, is hitting .322, which is the third-best mark on the squad. He's hit six doubles on the year, which is tied for second on the team with Nnebe. Cresto has also hit four home runs on the season. He is third on the squad with 10 runs batted in.
2016 West Coast Conference Honorable Mention honoree Tyler Meditz, a senior outfielder, has started every game for the Broncos this season. The Honolulu, Hawaii native is hitting .225 on the year. He has two home runs this season and driven in six runs. He has 53 putouts as the starting left fielder.
Junior designated hitter Niko Holm recovered from a slow start at the plate to have the best on-base percentage on the squad at .412. He has been walked 14 times and hit by a pitch five times on the season. He has a .242 batting average with 16 hits, including five doubles and three runs batted in on the year. Holm (10) joins Cresto (15), Meditz (11) and Nnebe (10) as the four Broncos to score 10 or more runs.
Santa Clara is third in the WCC in home runs (17) and home runs per game (0.74) on the season with nine different student-athletes hitting those home runs.
Broncos on the Mound
Santa Clara is second in the league in strikeouts per nine innings at 8.2.
Redshirt senior RHP Jacob Steffens has stepped into the starting rotation after being a relief pitcher in 2016 (recovering from Tommy John). Steffens threw his first-career complete game against Northwestern (March 3) and tied a career high in strikeouts with 11. He has thrown 40.1 innings, allowing 20 earned runs (26 runs total) while striking out 44 batters. His 44 Ks is a top-50 mark in the nation and No. 2 in the conference.
Redshirt sophomore RHP Eric Lex has been the No. 2 starter for SCU this season after missing the 2016 season (due to Tommy John surgery). He is 1-5 on the year with a 3.86 ERA in 35.0 innings pitched. He has recorded 36 strikeouts on the year.
Junior Michael Bono has made five starts this season and has shown a lot of improvement in his time as a Bronco. He has thrown 23.2 innings and has an ERA of 7.23 with a record of 0-3.
Freshman Grant Nechak has made four starts on the year and seven appearances total. He earned the first win of his collegiate career on March 4 against Northwestern. Nechak allowed just four hits in his 7.0 innings pitched and struck out eight batters without allowing a single walk in that game. The 6-4 right-handed pitcher is 1-3 on the year and has thrown 23.1 innings.
With 15 newcomers, the Broncos have a very young squad but the team was also dealt two injury blows prior to the start of the 2017 season. Pitchers Steven Wilson and Travis Howard, both of which were likely to be weekend starters, suffered season-ending injuries.
San Jose State
The San Jose State Spartans enter Wednesday's game with a 9-14 (5-4 MWC) record but are riding a five-game losing streak after a loss at Pacific and a four-game sweep at Hawaii last week. The Spartans lead the Mountain West Conference in stolen bases per game on the year at 1.09 (25 total) and are third in sacrifice bunts with 16 total. The pitching staff ranks third in the league in strikeouts per nine innings with a mark of 7.3. They score 4.3 and allow 5.63 earned runs per game.
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