Broncos Face Pepperdine in First Game of WCC Championship Thursday

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After finishing the regular season with its best conference standing since 2008 — fourth place — Santa Clara baseball heads to Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif. for the West Coast Conference Baseball Championship. The Broncos play in the tournament's opening game Thu., May 22 at 3 p.m. against the Pepperdine Waves.

Last weekend, the Broncos won two of three games at home against the Saint Mary's Gaels to earn a bid to the WCC Baseball Championship. In the series opener May 16, the Broncos took a 3-2 lead to the eighth inning and allowed four runs in the ninth to drop game one of the series 6-3. Facing postseason elimination May 17, Santa Clara rallied from a three-run deficit to score seven runs in a row and win 10-6. On Senior Day May 18, the Broncos overcame a 5-1 deficit and got an RBI walkoff single off the bat off T.J. Braff with two outs in the ninth to win 7-6.

Santa Clara went 1-23 in conference play last season, and made a 15-win improvement in the WCC by going 16-11 this season. The team enters the postseason on the heels of five consecutive conference series victories. The Broncos won the most games in WCC play since picking up 16 conference victories in 2004. Santa Clara was 6-42 in conference play between the 2012-13 seasons. They are looking to advance to their first NCAA Regional since 1997.

Probable Starters

Thu., May 22, 3 p.m.

SCU: RHP D.J. Zapata (3-7, 4.05 ERA) vs. PEP: RHP Corey Miller (7-4, 1.64 ERA)

Internet Radio/Video + Championship Information

The first two days of the 2014 West Coast Conference Baseball Championship feature a double-elimination format, leading up to a winner-take-all championship game Saturday.

Thursday, May 22

  • 3 p.m. - Game 1: #1 Seed Pepperdine vs #4 Seed Santa Clara
  • 7 p.m. - Game 2: #2 Seed Loyola Marymount vs #3 Seed Gonzaga

Friday, May 23

  • Noon - Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs Game 2 Loser
  • 3:30 p.m. - Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs Game 2 Winner
  • 7:30 p.m. - Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs Game 4 Loser

Saturday, May 24

  • 7 p.m. - Championship Game (ESPNU): Game 4 Winner vs Game 5 Winner

David Gentile is slated to call all Santa Clara games at the WCC Baseball Championship. Click here for an audio feed to all games.

TheW.tv will feature an online video broadcast of all games leading up to the championship game, which will be broadcast on ESPNU. Click here to go to TheW.tv.

Click here to go to WCC Championship Central.

Six Bronco Baseball Players Receive Conference Honors: Karalus, Vizcaino, Jr. Named to First Team, Berman Named to All-Freshman Team

The West Coast Conference announced its 2014 Baseball All-Conference teams and individual awards Tuesday, and six Santa Clara Broncos have been recognized as part of the honors. Sophomores Reece Karalus and Jose Vizcaino, Jr. were named First Team All-Conference and Stevie Berman was named to the All-Freshman Team. Berman also received an Honorable Mention alongside seniors Casey Munoz and Quinton Perry, as well as sophomore Jacob Steffens.

"It's great that our guys have been honored," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "They've all been working very hard this season and have overcome quite a bit. At the end of the day, the individual awards aren't our focus right now. We're excited to stay tight as a team and continue to play great team baseball. We'll celebrate these individual accolades at the end of the year."

All five individual awards — along with the All-West Coast Conference First and Freshman Teams — were voted on solely by the league's 10 head coaches. Of the 25-member All-West Coast Conference First Team, 10 are underclassmen and four are freshmen.

Karalus took the mound more than any WCC pitcher in the 2014 regular season with 33 appearances, and tied for a conference high with 11 saves. He posted a team-low 2.30 ERA with a 6-2 record and struck out 46 batters in 47.0 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .202 average. The sophomore did not allow a run in 23 of his 32 relief outings, and struck out multiple batters 16 times on the season.

Vizcaino, Jr. finished in the top 20 of the WCC with a .321 batting average and topped the Broncos in that category as he took the field for all of Santa Clara's 54 regular season games. He led the Broncos with 62 hits, tied for the team lead with three triples, finished second with 26 RBIs and stole a Santa Clara best 11 bases. His conference marks of a .368 batting average, 39 hits, 22 runs scored and seven stolen bases were all team highs. He led the Broncos with 21 multiple-hit games — including six three-hit games — and recorded the longest Bronco hitting streak at 12 games from April 8-27.

Berman finished the season at fifth in the conference with a .438 on-base percentage and fourth with 29 walks in 2014. He ranks second on the Broncos with a .316 batting average, four home runs and 34 runs scored. The freshman hit safely in 15 of his last 20 games and struck out only six times in his last 29 games for the Broncos. Berman was named WCC Rawlings Player of the Week April 28 by going 5-for-11 (.455) with a double, two home runs, four RBIs, four runs scored and three walks as the Broncos defeated LMU two games to one.

Munoz ranked seventh in the WCC with 16 doubles this season and led the Broncos with 27 RBIs. He hit 11 doubles in 27 conference starts and finished second on Santa Clara with 36 hits and a .343 batting average in 2014 conference action. The senior either scored or drove in a run in 15 of his last 19 games in the regular season as he drove in 15 runs and scored 11 while hitting .390 (32-for-82) during that stretch. Munoz tied fellow senior Quinton Perry with a team-high six three-hit games.

Perry leads the Broncos in home runs for the second straight year after rounding out the regular season with five long balls. The senior tied for second on the team with a .452 slugging percentage as he posted 16 extra-base hits in 2014, including nine doubles and two triples. He led the Broncos with four home runs and a .541 slugging percentage in 25 conference appearances, while recording the second-most walks on the team with 16 in WCC play. He has a team-best 17 two-out RBIs and recorded three RBIs in five games this season.

Steffens worked as both a starter and a relief pitcher for Santa Clara in the regular season, making eight starts and seven trips out of the bullpen. He led the Broncos with 31 strikeouts in conference play and posted a 2-1 record alongside a 3.44 ERA. The sophomore was named WCC Rawlings Pitcher of the Week on May 5 after he struck out a career-high nine batters in 7.0 shutout innings against San Francisco May 4. The following Saturday, Steffens pitched a career-high 8.0 innings at BYU to earn his second straight win. The Broncos are 7-0 the last seven times Steffens has taken the mound. 

Game One Opponent: Pepperdine

The Waves are the No. 1 seed in the WCC Baseball Championship with an overall record of 36-16 and a conference record of 18-9 in the 2014 season.

Pepperdine and Santa Clara met for a three-game series to open West Coast Conference play March 21-23. D.J. Zapata threw a complete game and allowed just one run to the Waves in a 1-0 loss during the series opener March 21. On March 22, the Broncos plated two runs in the first three innings before Pepperdine rebounded with a four-run seventh to win 4-2. In the series finale March 23, the Broncos and Waves played five scoreless innings before Pepperdine scored 10 runs in the last four innings to win 10-0.

2014 West Coast Conference Coach of the Year Steve Rodriguez is in his 11th season as head coach of the Waves, and graduated from Pepperdine in 2001. He enters this weekend with an overall record of 362-269 (.574 winning percentage). The Waves have won eight consecutive games against the Broncos, with Santa Clara's last victory in the series coming on April 20, 2012 at Schott Stadium.

Game Two Opponent: LMU or Gonzaga

The Lions are the No. 2 seed after finishing conference play with a record of 17-10. They tied the Bulldogs for second in the conference standings, and earned the No. 2 seed by way of a 2-1 head-to-head record against Gonzaga.

Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara met for a three-game series April 25-27 at Schott Stadium. In the series opener April 25, the teams combined for 10 runs in the first three innings and Santa Clara's late comeback bid fell short in a 6-5 loss. On April 26, the Broncos broke a 2-2 tie with multiple runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to win 10-2. Santa Clara claimed the series with a three-run eighth April 27 to win 8-7.

Jason Gill is in his sixth season as head coach of LMU baseball, and has an overall record of 163-161 (.503 winning percentage) entering the weekend. The Lions have finished in the top three of the West Coast Conference standings in four of Gill's six seasons at the helm — including a second-place finish in 2014.

The Bulldogs are the No. 3 seed after finishing conference play with a record of 17-10. They tied the Lions for second in the conference standings, and earned the No. 3 seed by way of a 1-2 head-to-head record against LMU.

Gonzaga and Santa Clara played three one-run games in Spokane, Wash. April 11-13. Santa Clara won 6-5 April 11 in 10 innings, thanks in part to a game-ending outfield assist from Kert Woods in left. The Broncos fell 2-1 in 10 innings on April 12 and 2-1 in the shortest game of the season — two hours, two minutes — on April 13.

Mark Machtolf is in his 11th season as head coach of Gonzaga, and 22nd season overall with the Bulldog baseball program. He enters the weekend with a head coaching record of 323-269-2 (.544 winning percentage). The Bulldogs won the 2012-13 West Coast Conference regular season title with a league record of 18-6.

Bronco Offense

Casey Munoz recorded multiple hits and at least one RBI in Santa Clara's Saturday and Sunday victories — both elimination games — at home against Saint Mary's last weekend. He went 5-for-13 with three doubles, four RBIs and a run scored. The Santa Clara senior went 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored in a 10-6 victory May 17. On Senior Day the following afternoon, Munoz went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs in a 7-6 victory. After Santa Clara fell behind 5-1 in the fourth, Munoz hit a three-run double as part of five unanswered runs for Santa Clara to put the Broncos ahead 6-5 in the fifth.

Jose Vizcaino, Jr., T.J. Braff, Zach Looney and Munoz were the four Broncos to record a hit in each of last weekend's games. Vizcaino, Jr. went 5-for-14 with four RBIs and three runs scored against the Gaels. Looney recorded three hits, drove in three runs and scored three runs for the Broncos.

Braff recorded three RBIs, including the game-winning walkoff single with two outs in the ninth inning Sunday. He drove in senior Greg Harisis, the Bronco leader with 45 runs scored on the season.

Munoz leads the Broncos with 27 RBIs on the season and is one of seven Broncos with at least 20 RBIs in 2014. As a team, the Broncos averaged 4.3 runs on 5.9 hits, recorded seven double-digit hit games and had a 10-16 record in their first 26 games. They have upped the numbers to 5.3 runs on 9.4 hits, 16 double-digit hit games, and a 16-12 record in their last 28 games.

The senior duo of Harisis and Munoz was among the most productive offensive players last season, as Munoz led the Broncos in batting average (.308), hits (64), doubles (10) and RBIs (31) while Harisis led the Broncos in on-base percentage (.399) and stolen bases (13-for-15).

Bronco Pitching

In his final home start, Thursday's probable D.J. Zapata threw 6.2 innings and allowed two earned runs on eight hits with one walk and seven strikeouts for the Broncos. Zapata faced more than four batters just once through the first six frames; Saint Mary's sent five to the plate in a fifth inning that featured an error. His seven strikeouts were one shy of a career-high eight, set back on Feb. 20 vs. Notre Dame.

The senior makes his 16th start of the season Thursday, and is the only Bronco pitcher to be used exclusively in a starting role this season. Zapata has thrown two of Santa Clara's three complete games in 2014, and leads all Bronco pitchers with 91.0 innings and 47 strikeouts.

Peter Hendron has allowed one earned run or fewer in six starts this season. He is tied for the team lead with six wins alongside Bronco closer Reece Karalus. In his last start May 17 vs. Saint Mary's, Hendron allowed six earned runs on 10 hits with one walk and four strikeouts in 3.0+ innings.

Jacob Steffens makes has made 15 starts and eight relief appearances for the Broncos. He has started the final game each of Santa Clara's last four series, and the Broncos are 4-0 in those starts. The sophomore posted a 4.58 ERA in 19.2 innings over four starts from Feb. 16-March 9. He had a 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings as a reliever in seven straight relief appearances March 13-April 19.

Steven Wilson has made 11 appearances and 10 starts for the Broncos, and currently owns a 1-3 record with a 4.37 ERA. Since sustaining an injury April 19 at San Diego, the redshirt freshman has made just one appearance for the Broncos. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and recorded one out May 8 at BYU.

Karalus' 33 appearances are the most of all West Coast Conference pitchers entering the weekend. By earning his 11th save in the series opener against BYU May 8, Karalus is currently second place on the Santa Clara single-season save leader list. He trails only Anthony Rea, who recorded 13 saves in 2004. His 17 combined wins and saves are the highest total in the WCC this season. Karalus was 0-9 with a 7.04 ERA in a mix of 12 starts and seven relief appearances as a freshman last season.

Jason Seever is the second-most used reliever on Santa Clara's staff with a 3-2 record and a 2.47 ERA in 27 appearances. In 40.0 innings pitched, Seever is holding opponents to a .200 batting average and boasts a 29:11 strikeout to walk ratio. In his last outing May 17 against Saint Mary's, Seever threw a career-high 6.0 shutout innings and matched a career best with five strikeouts, allowing three hits and no walks to earn his third win of the season out of the bullpen.

Scouting Pepperdine

Freshman Aaron Barnett leads the Waves offense with a .374 batting average in 2014. Conference Pitcher of the Year Aaron Brown has excelled as a two-way player, leading the Waves with 44 RBIs and posting a .319 batting average alongside 11 doubles, three triples and 12 home runs. Brad Anderson has a team-best 21 walks and Hutton Moyer leads Pepperdine with 15 stolen bases.

Pepperdine's offense scored the second-most runs in the WCC this season with 288 in the regular season. The Waves pitching staff boasts a 2.58 ERA and a .235 opposing batting average— both conference bests— and Pepperdine the only of the four teams in the WCC Baseball Championship with a sub-4.00 ERA. Defensively, the Waves tied for first in the WCC regular season with San Francisco by posting a .975 fielding percentage.

Corey Miller has posted a 7-4 record alongside a 1.64 ERA, three complete games and two shutouts in 2014. Miller has struck out 72 in 98.2 innings and is holding opponents to a .235 batting average. In his last outing May 16 at Gonzaga, Miller allowed six runs (three earned) on eight hits with five walks and one strikeout in 6.1 innings of a 6-5 loss.

Miller and Zapata will face off for the second time this season, after the two were locked in a pitchers' duel in Santa Clara's first WCC game of the season March 21 — a 1-0 Pepperdine win. Miller threw 8.0 shutout innings and allowed four hits with no walks against seven strikeouts for the Waves.  Zapata allowed one earned run on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts in the complete-game loss for the Broncos.

Keep Your Enemies Closer

Santa Clara is one of 11 teams in the country to play at least 20 one-run games in the 2014 season*. The Broncos have an 11-9 record in games decided by one run. Nine of Santa Clara's last 19 games have been decided by one run (2-2) and four of the team's last seven losses have come by one run.

In the Broncos' eight West Coast Conference series this season, only two have not featured a one-run game: April 4-6 vs. Portland and May 8-10 at BYU. Three of the series have featured multiple one-run games, including all three contests against Gonzaga. Santa Clara's victory to clinch a WCC Championship berth was by a final of 7-6 in its last regular season game.

*Information gathered and distributed by Daniel Ruede – University of Hartford

Welcome to the New Age

Several Santa Clara freshmen have seen a significant part of the action this season: Stevie Berman has made 52 appearances and 50 starts (52-50), Rory Graf-Brennen (29-8), Max Kuhns (26-20 in the field, seven relief appearances), Kyle Czaplak (41-27) and Tyler Meditz (24-5).

Six of nine Bronco pitchers to make a start this season are underclassmen: sophomore Reece Karalus, sophomore Peter Hendron, sophomore Jacob Steffens, redshirt-freshman Steven Wilson, freshman Kevin George and sophomore Nick Mederios. The lone upperclassman in the weekend rotation is Thursday's starter D.J. Zapata, who is in his second season of college baseball with the Broncos.

Season Highlights

Jacob Steffens Named WCC Rawlings Pitcher of the Week (Click Here for the full release)

Jacob Steffens was named WCC Rawlings Pitcher of the Week for May 5, 2014. Steffens is the third Bronco and first pitcher to win a conference player of the week award this season. Steffens picked up his first win of the season in a co-career best 7.0 shutout innings and struck out a career-high nine batters Sun., May 4 in a 2-1 victory at San Francisco. The sophomore needed just six outs to best his prior career-high of three strikeouts; he struck out the side in the first and recorded an inning-ending strikeout in the second.

Stevie Berman Named WCC Rawlings Baseball Player of the Week (Click Here for the full release), College Sports Madness West Coast Player of the Week

Stevie Berman was named WCC Rawlings Baseball Player of the Week for April 28, 2014. Berman is the first freshman to win the player of the week award this season, which has now been handed out 11 times. During Santa Clara's weekend series, the catcher from Saratoga, Calif. went 5-for-11 (.455) with a double, two home runs, four RBIs, four runs scored and three walks.

Berman played an integral part in the team's success as part of a two-games-to-one series win over the second-place Loyola Marymount Lions. He slugged at a 1.091 clip and notched a .571 on-base percentage. Berman also excelled behind the plate, committing no errors and limiting the conference's stolen base leader in LMU to 2-for-4 in the three-game set.

Reece Karalus Named to NCBWA Mid-Season Stopper of the Year Watch List (Click Here for the full release)

Reece Karalus is one of 50 players named to the mid-season watch list for the 10th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, announced by the association Wednesday. The sophomore closer is one of only three West Coast Conference pitchers and one of only 16 underclassmen to make the list. The North Bend, Wash. native is 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA, eight saves and 30 strikeouts in 31.2 innings between 22 relief appearances and one start this season.

Santa Clara Bests Manhattan 10-2, O'Brien Earns 500th Career Win (Click Here for the full game story)

Bronco head coach Dan O'Brien won his 500th career game as the Broncos defeated Manhattan 10-2 on March 2. The third-year Santa Clara head coach won 454 games with his alma mater, UC San Diego, and collected his 46th win at Santa Clara in the victory over the Jaspers.

"There's been a ton of great memories and some big team wins in there, but I don't do this for the wins," O'Brien said after Sunday's game. "I coach for the countless lifelong relationships I've developed over the years. Those mean the world to me."

Peter Hendron Named College Sports Madness West Coast Player of the Week

Sophomore pitcher Peter Hendron was named the College Sports Madness West Coast Player of the Week for March 3, 2014. Hendron posted career high marks with 8.0 innings and seven strikeouts in a 10-2 win March 2 against Manhattan at the Sanderson Ford Baseball Classic in Surprise, Ariz. last weekend. He allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits with two walks and held the Jaspers to 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position to earn the winning decision to improve to 2-1.

Greg Harisis Named Rawlings WCC Baseball Player of the Week

Greg Harisis won Irish Baseball Classic MVP honors with a stat line of 9-for-19, three RBIs, seven runs scored, two doubles, one home run and an outfield assist as the Broncos went 4-0 Feb. 20-23. He was named the WCC Rawlings Baseball Player of the Week, becoming the first Bronco to earn the honor since Patrick Terry on May 23, 2011.