SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After winning its third series of the season, Santa Clara baseball returns to the field for a mid-week game on Tuesday vs. PAC-12 opponent Cal before welcoming Michigan State to the Mission campus. The Broncos and Spartans will play one game Fri., March 15 and a double-header on Sat., March 16.
Last week the Broncos fell to No. 14 Stanford 6-3 on March 5, but bounced back to take two of three from local rival San Jose State. Santa Clara won at Municipal Stadium on March 8 5-0 behind a complete game shutout from Mike Couch and 2-1 on March 10 behind 8.0-plus one-hit innings from Tommy Nance. The Spartans took the game at Schott Stadium on March 9, 9-1.
The Broncos are beat Michigan State in the only other match up between the two schools back in 2000.
"When our guys come ready to play and we compete for nine innings, we're a solid ball club," said Santa Clara head coach Dan O'Brien. "Offensively, we're dealing with some early season injuries and adversity but I've been impressed with how our club has picked up our offense, especially our pitching staff."
Tommy Nance (2-1, 1.29) has been spectacular in four starts this year. Nance has thrown 21.0 innings and allowed just nine hits and three runs. He has 16 strikeouts against six walks with an opponents' batting average of just .130. At San Jose State on March 10 he tossed 8.0-plus innings of one-hit, one-run ball with seven strikeouts.
Mike Couch (3-1, 2.32) has started the first four Friday nights for Santa Clara and had his best outing the last time out vs. San Jose State. Couch threw a complete game shutout with five strikeouts. Couch leads the team with 31.0 innings pitched and has struck out 23 batters with 12 walks while allowing just 26 hits.
"When you get good starts from your starters, it relives a lot of stress off of your bullpen," said Santa Clara pitching coach Gabe Ribas. "Their success has helped the guys in the bullpen to take a little bit off of their shoulders. Couch and Tommy going deep into games, filling the zone up with strikes and having a great mental approach to deal with anything is what you look for from those guys. Whether they win or lose, you're in the ballgame and they're giving you a chance every time they toe the rubber. I don't know where we'd be without those guys and I look forward to working with them everyday and watching them pitch."
Max Deering (1-1, 2.41) has been lights out coming in from the bullpen. Deering has thrown 18.2 innings over nine appearances and struck out 18 batters against just five walks. His 3.6 strikeout to walk ratio is tops on the team. He has also leads the team with two saves. D.J. Zapata and Reece Karalus are tied for second in saves with one each.
"It's huge to have a guy like Max coming out of the bullpen, especially for matchups," continued Ribas. "Max doesn't do anything special but does everything well. You can't ask for anything more and he's totally bought into our pitching philosophy. He's a calming presence when he's out there and everybody trusts that he's going to get the job done."
Santa Clara is hitting .293 as a team with a .384 on-base percentage and a .389 slugging percentage. The Broncos have hit 21 doubles, four triples and eight home runs while scoring 104 runs and stealing 24 bags.
Greg Harisis leads Santa Clara in hitting with a .400 (24-60) batting average. Harisis clubbed his first home run of the season vs. vs. Northern Colorado on March 3. He has added four doubles, one triple, 13 runs scored, 12 RBI and three stole bases. His seven walks and one hit-by-pitch put his on-base percentage at a terrific .464.
Quinton Perry leads the WCC with five home runs, his total from 2012, while hitting .370 (20-54). Perry has a team-high 17 RBI while adding four doubles and scoring 14 runs. Perry has a .419 OBP and a .722 slugging percentage.
Newcomer Casey Munoz has started all 16 games for Santa Clara and is hitting .348 (23-66) with a team-high five doubles, one triple, 12 RBI and seven runs scored. Matt Ozanne is second on the Broncos with 16 RBI while hitting .286 (16-56) and scoring 10 runs. Justin Viele leads the Broncos with 10 walks, while hitting .339 (21-62) and posting a .447 OBP. He has scored 16 runs and driven in seven while hitting two doubles and a triple with three stolen bases.
"We've been working on our approach and staying within our game plan while being aggressive," said Santa Clara hitting coach Keith Beauregard. "We're at our best when we're aggressive in our approach and dictating our at-bats. We have continued to work on trusting our approach mentally. The guys are a confident and tight-knit crew that has put in some serious man-hours over the past seven months. They are prepared for any baseball situation that comes their way. As a whole, we will continue to trust the process and love living in the now. We're going to do good things and we're really happy with where our hitters are. They're working hard everyday and sticking to their routine while trusting the process."
The Bears are 9-7 in 2013 but just 1-5 on the road. They opened the season with a three-game sweep of Michigan and last week swept Fresno State in a four-game series. At the Houston College Classic, Cal fell to Baylor, No. 1 North Carolina and No. 19 Rice, while taking down Houston.
Cal is hitting .272 as a team with a .358 on-base percentage and a .360 slugging percentage. The Bears have scored 71 runs, hit 22 doubles, two triples and seven RBI while stealing five bases in 12 attempts.
Devon Rodriguez leads the team with a .400 batting average (24-60). Rodriguez has hit four doubles, scored five runs and driven in nine.
Andrew Knapp is hitting .333 (22-66) while placing second on the team with 14 RBI. Knapp has clubbed two home runs and five doubles while scoring nine runs.
Chris Paul leads the Bears with 15 RBI and has two homers and three doubles. Paul is hitting .250 (15-60) with five runs scored.
The Bears have a 4.25 team ERA and have surrendered 158 hits in 144.0 innings. They have struck out 91 batters against 61 walks.
Dylan Nelson (0-0, 1.76) leads the team in ERA over six appearances, two starts that covered 15.1 innings. Nelson has fanned nine while walking two.
Ryan Mason (3-0, 1.80) has picked up three wins in four appearances over 10.0 innings. He has struck out 13 batters while walking three.
Justin Jones (0-1, 5.40) leads Cal with 18.1 innings pitched over four starts. He has allowed 26 hits, nine walks and struck out 10.
The Spartans enter the week at 6-7 with all their games coming away from home. Michigan State took down Cincinnati on Feb. 22 and last week went to No. 10 Kentucky but lost two of three.
As a team, the Spartans are hitting .257 with a .327 OBP and a .335 slugging percentage. They have scored 65 runs while hitting 23 doubles and four home runs with 14 steals.
Jordan Keur is the lone Spartan hitting over .300 with a .319 (15-47) mark. Keur has scored seven runs with 11 RBI, a home run and four doubles. He leads the team with five steals in eight attempts.
Joel Fisher is hitting .292 (14-48) while tying for the team-lead with eight runs scored. Fisher has hit four doubles and one home run while driving in seven runs.
Michigan State has a 4.38 team ERA in 111.0 innings pitched. The team has allowed 103 hits and 65 runs with 93 strikeouts against 39 walks. The staff has given up seven home runs, four triples and 23 doubles.
Andrew Waszak (1-1, 2.22) leads the team in ERA and is second in innings pitched with 24.1 across four starts. He has allowed 21 hits with five walks and 18 strikeouts.
David Garner (3-0, 3.42) leads the team with 26.1 innings pitched and wins. He has allowed 25 hits and five walks while fanning 22.
Closer Jeff Kinley (0-0, 3.65) leads the Spartans with three saves in eight appearances. He has allowed eight hits and seven walks in 12.1 innings with 17 strikeouts.