May 2, 2014

Broncos Lose Hard-Fought Battle to Dons 6-5

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Santa Clara Broncos fell 6-5 to the San Francisco Dons in a close contest from Benedetti Diamond Friday afternoon. The Broncos took a two-run lead in the first inning and recorded 14 hits, finishing the night with 12 runners left on base and the potential game-tying run aboard in the ninth. 

Starting pitcher D.J. Zapata (L, 3-7) threw 6.2 innings and allowed six runs (three earned) on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts in the loss. The senior recorded 1-2-3 innings in the second and sixth, and faced the minimum in the fifth for Santa Clara. USF starter Abe Bobb threw 4.2 innings and gave up five earned runs on 10 hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Junior Logan West (W, 1-0) picked up the victory in 2.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. 

The Broncos (20-25, 10-9 WCC) strung together three singles to start the game, including scoring the first run when freshman catcher Stevie Berman drove in senior center fielder Greg Harisis. Junior first baseman T.J. Braff extended the Bronco lead to 2-0 on an RBI triple with two outs. He went 3-for-4 with a walk and finished a home run shy of the cycle.

The Dons (21-23, 9-13 WCC) answered in their half of the inning when first baseman Brendan Hendriks hit a three-run homer to give USF a 3-2 lead. The junior tied fellow junior center fielder Bradley Zimmer and freshman shortstop Nico Giarratano for the team lead with two hits. Extra-base hits for both teams in the first inning set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Broncos recorded six and the Dons recorded five in a 22-hit afternoon.

Santa Clara got three straight baserunners with two outs and tied the game at 3-3 in the third. Senior left fielder Casey Munoz doubled and was driven in on a single by senior designated hitter Quinton Perry.

After a two-run Don fourth, senior second baseman Zach Looney pulled the Broncos level at 5-5 with a two-run single to score Berman and Braff. Looney's two RBIs were a Bronco best Friday, and Jose Vizcaino, Jr. tied Braff for the team lead with three hits as eight of nine Santa Clara batters hit safely in the first game of the series.

Zimmer started the seventh with a triple off the netting above Benedetti Diamond's left field wall — on which the yellow home run line is roughly 40 feet off the ground. He scored the game-winning run one batter later on Giarratano's RBI sacrifice fly to left which put the Dons in front 6-5.

Santa Clara had at least one runner aboard in each of its last four innings, and could not come away with any runs. Vizcaino, Jr, singled and stole second with one out in the sixth and Braff led off the seventh with a double. With bases empty and one out in the eighth, Harisis hit a fly ball deep to the right-center gap, and San Francisco junior right fielder Derek Atkinson made a full-extension diving catch to rob the Broncos of extra bases.

San Francisco closer Houston Hibberd (SV, 8) entered the game with two outs and runners on first and second in the eighth, and got Munoz to fly out to left for the last out of the inning. Perry hit a one-out single in the ninth, and freshman pinch-runner Rory Graf-Brennen was stranded at first after Hibberd made consecutive outs to end the game.

The Broncos and Dons meet for the second game of the series Saturday afternoon with a 1 p.m. first pitch.

Game Notes: First pitch was at 3 p.m. … time of game was 2:57 … attendance was 187.