by Brandon Rebboah
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – J.R. Graham (2-1), who entered the weekend with a 2-0 record and 1.59 ERA, started his first game of the season for Santa Clara but the Broncos dropped their series-finale with Loyola Marymount 11-2. Patrick Terry extended his hitting-streak to seven-games for the Broncos. Aaron Griffin picked up the win for the Lions. The Broncos will look to regroup and break up their five-game losing streak when they host Cal Poly on Tuesday.
Graham came into the game allowing just four runs on the year, striking out 26 batters in 22.2 innings. The start was the first of the season, in which he lasted 5.1 innings.
"We thought J.R. would give us a good advantage in his first start," said head coach Mark O'Brien. "He just left a couple balls up. It was a difficult day, but we're not going to stop fighting. This will just test our attitude."
Loyola Marymount (19-11) put runs on the board in a hurry. After Graham walked Matt Lowenstein to lead off the game, Jonathan Johnson provided an RBI single. Matt Koch generated another early run with a groundout-RBI to put the Lions up, 2-1, after half an inning.
Graham recovered in the second, posting his first strikeout and stranding two LMU runners.
Santa Clara got its first hit of the game from Curtis Wagner to start the bottom of the second. Lucas Herbst followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Wagner scored after Drew Ozanne reached second on an error.
The Lions responded by scoring two runs in the third. With one out and runners on the corners, Wagner saved a run with a diving stop to attain the second out. Graham induced a popup to end the inning. After two and a half frames, LMU led 4-1.
Pat Terry led off the fourth with a single for the Broncos. After two consecutive fly outs, Terry stole second. However, Santa Clara was unable to capitalize as Drew Ozanne flied out.
Graham retired the side in the fifth, including a quick reaction to snare a comebacker lined right at him. He then got two Lions to groundout, ending the inning.
Zach Looney sparked the Broncos in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff triple. Blake Leyva knocked in Looney with a RBI groundout. One the weekend, Looney was 2-4 at the plate with a run scored. Justin Viele was awarded first after being drilled by a pitch. Santa Clara could only put one on the scoreboard to make the score 4-2 after five innings.
The Lions derailed Graham in the sixth. LMU loaded the bases. Bret Dahlson chopped a ball to third; DeMeritt grabbed it and fired home where Terry applied the tag. Despite saving a run, Graham hit a batter to score a run. Max Deering relieved Graham, allowing a triple that scored three runs. Deering was lifted in favor of Chris Mendoza, who ended the five-run inning.
Brock Simon started the eighth on the mound for the Broncos. With two outs, Simon reacted to a ball that whizzed straight at him, grabbing it for the third out.
There are bright spots for the Broncos moving forward. Santa Clara has a chance to end its 16-game home stand in winning fashion when Cal Poly visits Schott Stadium on Tuesday before hitting the road to take on WCC rival Saint Mary's. From the pitching side, Cory Hall has continued to pitch well for Santa Clara, pitching 6.1 innings of three-run baseball in his last outing. Offensively, senior captain Patrick Terry has a 11-game hitting streak.
"It's a test of our character," added O'Brien. "We just have to get back to competing. It's still early enough for us to fight, scratch and claw our way back into things."
Game Notes: First pitch 1:00 p.m. ...Graham pitched 5.1 innings, allowing 10 hits and eight runs…the Broncos wore their white uniforms, typically they wear red on Sundays… with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Viele was hit by a pitch for the second time…Terry continued to produce at the plate, going 4-12 on the weekend, posting a double and a stolen base.