Broncos Fall to Cal 3-1

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Broncos bullpen tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings but a three run fourth inning off of Bronco starter Reece Karalus was enough to lift Cal to 3-1 win over Santa Clara on Tuesday night at Stephen Schott Stadium. The Broncos dropped to 8-9 on the year while Cal won its fifth straight game and improved to 10-7.

Karalus (0-4) took the loss for SCU allowing three runs, two earned, in 3.2 innings with a walk and a strikeout. The Broncos bullpen tossed 5.1 shutout innings allowing just three hits.

The Broncos managed just five hits against five Cal hurlers. Ryan Wertenberger (1-1) got the win while allowing one hit in 1.1 innings. Michael Lowden earned his second save pitching a scoreless ninth.

Santa Clara will host Michigan State in a three-game series this weekend with a single game on Friday, Mar. 15 and a doubleheader on Saturday, Mar. 16 and will open WCC play the following weekend with a three-game set at Pepperdine.

Freshman Jake Steffens made his collegiate debut and tossed two perfect innings out of the pen with a strikeout for the Broncos. "It was exciting just to come back after not being able to throw. Not being able to contribute was really hard."

The Broncos grabbed the early lead scoring their only run in the first inning. Justin Viele opened the frame with a base on balls and stole second, his third steal of the season.

Following a strike out of Drew Ozanne, Matt Ozanne walked and Casey Munoz hit a high chopper to third that Chris Paul had no play on for an infield single. Peter Summerville followed with a sacrifice fly to left for a 1-0 lead. The Broncos failed to get more runs when T.J. Braff lined into a fielders choice to end the inning.

Santa Clara wasted an opportunity for another run in the second when Kyle DeMerritt, who singled with one out in the frame, was thrown out at the plate on attempted double steal.

With Viele on first and DeMerritt on third with two out, Viele broke for second after a pitch in the dirt to Drew Ozanne. While in a rundown between first and second, DeMerritt took off for home and was tagged out by Andrew Knapp.

Cal got on the board and took the lead in the fourth scoring three times on just two hits.  The Bears plated their first run without the benefit of a hit. Knapp drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a pair of passed balls.

Karalus recorded his only strikeout getting Jacob Wark swinging before he plunked Chris Paul to put runners on first and third. Michael Theofanopoulos followed with a fielder's choice groundout that the Broncos failed to turn a double play on and the game was tied 1-1.

Brandon Farney kept the inning alive with a high chopper that snuck into center field for his second single of the game and Brian Celsi followed with a two-run double down the left field line for a 3-1 advantage. It was the first career extra-base hit for Celsi.

A base running mistake cost the Broncos in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Stephen Takahashi walked with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With DeMerritt at the plate, Takahashi was picked off second base and DeMerritt grounded out to end the inning. 

Game Notes: First pitch was at 6:11 … 2B Kyle DeMerritt made a nice diving backhand catch of a ball hit by Mike Reuvekamp in the 3rd inning … Cal RS freshman Brian Celsi collected his first career extra base hit with a two-run double in the fourth inning … SCU freshman RHP Jacob Steffens made his collegiate debut throwing a 1-2-3 top of the fifth … The Broncos have managed just eight hits in their last two games but are 1-1 in those contests.