April 28, 2008
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Senior captain Ryan Conan launched a home run far beyond the left centerfield wall Monday night to give the Santa Clara baseball team a 10-9 victory over Bay Area rival No. 3 Stanford. It was Conan's second homer of the season.
"We played very hard and played the right way," said head coach Mark O'Brien. "We hustled, battled and kept the mindset that we were never out of the game. Our pitching was where we needed it to be and Ryan [Conan] was great for us."
Redshirt sophomore Mark Willinsky earned his second win as the Broncos improved to 26-16 on the season. The win tied Santa Clara's season-best five game win streak. Willinsky tossed two innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three batters. The loss was awarded to Blake Hancock (1-1). The Cardinal is now 25-14-2 overall.
"Mark is a great example of a guy who struggled early in the season but never stopped believing in himself, and neither did we," said O'Brien. "It stuck with it all season long and he has been pretty special for us the whole time."
Offensively, Gabe Alcantar and Jon Karcich also registered home runs for the Broncos. Karcich went 3-for-5 with two runs and four RBIs against the Cardinal.
Although the Cardinal opened the third meeting with a Cord Phelps solo home run in the top of the first, the Broncos responded with a three-run effort in their half of the inning. It was Karcich, who homered to left field that drove in runners Conan and Tommy Medica. Medica had singled in his first at-bat of the contest, while Conan walked.
SCU then made it a 4-1 game in the third inning after successfully holding off Stanford for two innings. Karcich drove in his fourth run of the night with a base-hit to left field. Evan LeBlanc, who singled to right field, scored on the play.
However, the Cardinal came alive in their halves of the fourth and fifth innings, tallying seven runs to take an 8-4 lead. In the fourth inning, Jason Castro started this off with a solo homer to right field to make it a 4-2 game. Colin Walsh then singled up the middle to bring home Sean Ratliff and Randy Molina. Both players walked to get on base. The score was tied, 4-4.
In its half of the fifth, Stanford rallied behind Walsh and Phelps to score four runs. Walsh registered another base-hit that brought home Castro, who singled. Phelps then followed with a double to center field that scored three runners, Jake Schlander, Brent Milleville and Walsh. The Cardinal now led, 8-4
But the Broncos were not going to give up without a fight. In their half of the fifth inning, Santa Clara exploded for five runs to regain the lead with a one run advantage.
Nathan Faulkner's sacrifice midway through the inning brought home Conan, who faced his second walk of the game in the leadoff spot. Alcantar then scored his sixth home run of the season, a three run blast down the left field line. Geoff Klein and Karcich also scored on the play. The score was then tied for the second time of the game, 8-8.
The one-run advantage came on a LeBlanc single to left field that brought home Matt Long. The junior right fielder walked to get on base. SCU led, 9-8.
In the sixth inning, Toby Gerhart tied the game for the Cardinal as he scored on a Ratliff sacrifice. The score was tied for the third time, 9-9.
Both teams were held scoreless for two innings. Willinsky came in as the Broncos third reliever in the eighth inning and effectively held off Stanford. In his fifth at-bat of the game, Conan came to the plate and scored his second home run of the season, a solo effort that gave the Broncos the 10-9 edge. For his efforts, Conan was named Sirius Satellite Radio's Player of the Game.
"It was a great feeling," said Conan. "I was able to leverage the count and I just trusted in my ability and hard work all season long. It was a huge win for us today and it keeps our win streak alive. It is great momentum for us going into conference games again this weekend."
But it wasn't over quite yet. After two quick outs to end the bottom of the eighth, Stanford was back at the plate and looking to knot up the score. However, Willinsky had something to say about that as he struck out three straight batters to secure the win for Santa Clara.
The Broncos return to action on Tuesday, April 29 against the Hornets of Sacramento State. The contest is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Schott Stadium.