Santa Clara - 3-0 (Texas State, Wichita State, Louisiana-Lafayette)
The Broncos are off to a 3-0 start as they went on the road to a tourney in San Marcos (TX) and might have slid under the local radar with their sweep of the tourney. The won 5-4, 7-1, and 8-5, with two of the wins coming in extra innings. That has to feel great for the new coaching staff and for the players who haven't experienced enough success the last few years at SCU. Early returns are that the pitching is improved and since I think Santa Clara can still score like they have in the past seasons, things are looking good for SCU.
I know quite a bit about the Broncos' hitters but there are a lot of pitchers I know little about. In the game against Texas State, they were led offensively by senior OF Lucas Herbst (2-5, R), soph 1B/OF Pat Stover (2-6, 2 R) and freshman DH T.J. Braff (2-6, R, RBI). Three Texas State errors certainly helped the Bronco cause in the 13 inning win. Two relievers (Max Deering, Paul Twining) threw three scoreless innings, in relief of starter Tommy Nance.
In the W against Wichita State, the Broncos got six runs in the top of the 12th inning. RHP Brock Simon threw eight very strong innings (7 K, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 ER) and again the pen was outstanding, with LHP Powell Fansler (3 IP) and RHP Chris Mendoza (1 IP) both posting scoreless lines. Herbst and Stover again led the offensive attack, with soph 2B Kyle DeMerritt chipping in a couple of hits.
In the third W of the tourney, Santa Clara scored eight runs with only six hits. Stover and Herbst were again part of the action, with OF Steven Takahashi going 2-4 with 2 RBI and a run. For the weekend Herbst hit .429 with two doubles and four runs scored. The Broncos only hit .234 as a team so their hits counted and they obviously took advantage of some errors made against them.
If this team is going to make improvements from past years, it will have to be on the mound and the early returns are good. As a staff the Broncos posted a 2.38 ERA, with with 27 strikeouts in 34 innings, vs only 10 walks and 30 hits. Those are solid numbers. The pen was VERY strong and the starters all got at least into the sixth inning. The pen gave up only two runs in 13.1 innings pitched. That is coming in and getting the job done.