SANTA CLARA, Calif. - With winter in the rearview mirror, Santa Clara baseball opens its 2013 season on Fri., Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. at Schott Stadium vs. Seattle in the first of a three-game set. On Mon., Feb. 18 Santa Clara will host Cal Poly after sweeping the two-game set vs. the Mustangs in 2012. Last year Santa Clara won 26 games, the most any of the seniors had experienced. The 26 wins were a nine-win improvement over the 17 wins in 2011.
"Our goal this year is to reach our ceiling and break through it," said second-year Santa Clara head coach Dan O'Brien. "No crystal ball predictions here, but I can promise that every man in this program will give everything they have to help find that ceiling. We're going to be a ball club that competes, from the first pitch to the last, a resilient team that can take a punch, a bunch of guys who care about each other and will make sacrifices for one another and ballplayers that get dirty, and love it. If you come watch the Broncos play this year, you'll leave proud."
Santa Clara returns Friday nigh starter Tommy Nance who led the team with 94.1 innings pitched in 2012. Nance went 4-6 with a 4.20 ERA while striking out 48 batters. He will make a controlled start on Monday due to injury.
Mike Couch, who made nine starts in 2012 and tossed two complete games before going down with a knee injury is the 2013 opening day starter for Santa Clara. He tossed 57.1 innings in 2012 while striking out 39 against just 14 walks. His 2.8 strike out to walk ratio led the team.
The February 2012 West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Month Powell Fanlser is back for his junior year after going 5-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 18 appearances that included 11 starts.
"On the pitching side we're looking to pound the strike zone," said O'Brien. "We want our pitchers to really get after the hitters and use their defense. We have guys that are going to make plays. We've been known for being a good defensive team. We want the guys to have great poise and react well to adversity. The game is going to try to make you speed up and our pitchers need to have the mechanism to slow down."
Greg Harisis returns to the Broncos after leading the team in hitting with an average of .398 in 2012. Harisis scored 30 runs, knocked in 13 more while hitting eight doubles and a home run. He added six steals while playing mostly second base and right field.
Matt Ozanne hit .261 in 2012 while playing in 47 games in the outfield. He placed second on the team with four home runs and added 17 RBI with 20 runs scored. Ozanne posed a .335 on-base percentage with six doubles and a triple. He stole 13 bases in 19 attempts.
Justin Viele led the Broncos in 2012 in walks (22) and hit-by-pitch (13) to post a .378 OBP with a .242 batting average. Viele started all 54 games for Santa Clara and scored 29 runs while knocking in 10. He had seven doubles, one triple and stole six bags.
"We're focused on having quality at-bats and dominating the things we can control," said O'Brien. "We're keeping it as simple as possible and trying to put the barrel-head on the ball. It's a group of guys that have been working really hard on being consistent. There's not any result we're looking for other than what's the percentage of quality at-bats we had."
Seattle finished 2012 with a record of 23-30 and 7-17 on the road. Last season also marked the first time the Broncos faced Seattle in the programs' histories. Santa Clara traveled to Washington and took down the Redhawks 8-4 and 3-2 in 11 innings.
As a team the Redhawks batted .249. Of Seattle's 34 players, 11 are freshmen, making almost a third of the roster newcomers. Despite hitting just 11 home runs in 2012, the Redhawks only surrendered 15.
Garrett Anderson led the team with six wins in 2012 and finished the season 6-6 with a 5.66 ERA over 23 appearances, including seven starts. He tossed 55.2 innings and struck out 31 batters. The rest of the returning pitchers had seven total wins.
Eric Yardley was 2-2 with a team-best 2.49 ERA coming out of the bullpen last year. He had a team-high five saves to go along with 14 strikeouts and 11 walks in 25.1 innings pitched.
Ryan Somers led the team in batting last year with an average of .297 and had two of the teams four triples. Somers added five doubles and two stolen bases while appearing in 39 games.
Brian Olson is the top returning power threat for Seattle. Olson hit two home runs and drove in 18 runs in 2012 while hitting .276. Olson also added eight doubles and scored 17 runs.
The Redhawks lost their top-two base stealers from 2012 in Marcelino Morales who swiped 13 bags and Trent Oleszczuk who had eight. Nate Roberts five steals in 2012 is the highest total returning to the team. Roberts hit .233 in 48 games with one home run and 18 RBI. Roberts also scored 19 runs and added eight doubles.
Cal Poly went 36-20 last season and was 12-12 on the road. The Mustangs ended their season on a seven-game winning streak. Santa Clara is 40-36 all-time vs. Cal Poly. Last season the Broncos took down the Mustangs twice, once at home and once on the road. Santa Clara went to San Luis Obispo and came home a 5-2 winner and then won at home 11-6 two weeks later.
Cal Poly will open its season on Friday with the first of three games at USF. After visiting Santa Clara, the Mustangs will have their home-opener vs. Seattle on Feb. 22.
As a team in 2012 the Mustangs hit .297 and smacked 36 home runs to opponents' 15. They will welcome seven freshmen to the team in 2013.
Joey Wagman was the top pitcher for the Mustangs in 2012 when he went 9-3 with a 2.33 ERA in 15 starts. He threw a team-high 108.1 innings and struck out 79 against just 21 walks.
Also returning is Cal Poly's closer Chase Johnson who can throw up to 98 MPH. Johnson saved a team-high eight games in 2012 and posted a 3.34 ERA. He made 25 appearances while throwing 35 innings and striking out 31.
Jimmy Allen is the top returning hitter for Cal Poly. Allen hit .345 while starting every game as a sophomore. He clubbed three home runs, four triples and a team-high 20 doubles. Allen scored 32 runs and knocked in 44.
David Armendariz appeared in every game last season for the Mustangs while making 52 starts. He hit .312 with four home runs, two triples and 12 doubles. Armendariz had 36 RBI and scored 30 runs while stealing 13 bases in 18 attempts. Both steals and attempts were the highest on the 2012 Cal Poly team.