Broncos Continue Strong Season
Team already matches win total from last season
Published: Thursday, April 5, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 5, 2012 11:04
With more than two months left in the season, the Santa Clara Bronco baseball team matched their 17 total wins from last season with a victory over Fresno State on Tuesday afternoon.
While their 17-9 record is impressive, the Broncos are only 1-5 in the West Coast Conference after being swept by San Diego and dropping two of three to Portland.
Last season the Broncos went 17–34 and finished last in the WCC with a 4–17 conference record. Prior to this season, Santa Clara brought in Dan O’Brien as head coach to go along with a new coaching staff. O’Brien sought to change the culture in the clubhouse and the players have bought into his philosophy.
“We’re just out here having fun,” said junior Pat Stover on opening weekend.
Fellow junior Tommy Nance, a transfer, described the clubhouse as “loose and relaxed.”
This laid back attitude off the field has led to success on it.
“We’re just having a ball out here and winning ballgames,” said senior Andrew Biancardi.
The result was the team’s first 5–0 start since 2008 -— a season when the team nearly made the playoffs.
“We’re not going to get caught up in it,” said O’Brien regarding the hot start. “We’re picked to finish last, nobody expects us to do much, so lets just go out and have fun.”
Positive contributions have come from a variety of sources so far this season for the Broncos.
Junior Matt Ozanne has shown promise as a leadoff hitter and Stover has provided power (six doubles, three home runs) as the team’s starting catcher. It was expected that both players would make an impact this season.
A Scottsdale, Ariz. native, Ozanne was drafted by his hometown Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school. Stover, who calls Rocklin, Calif. home, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics.
Both players could potentially be drafted again following this season and might choose to leave Santa Clara for a chance to play professionally.
Senior outfielder Lucas Herbst has been getting on base (.457 on base percentage) and getting around them (.573 slugging percentage with six doubles and four triples).
Nance has emerged as one of the Broncos’ most successful pitchers (3–1, 3.09 ERA) and has proven that he can get out of tough situations.
“What makes him a great pitcher is his composure during those tough innings,” said O’Brien.
It has also been a breakout season for Biancardi and junior pitcher Mike Couch.
Last season Biancardi batted an unassuming .222 with three doubles and one home run. This season he already has four doubles and four home runs, is batting .269 and is being used in the middle of the lineup.
A converted reliever, Couch has become an integral part of the starting rotation. The pitcher was a benefactor of one of the season’s most spectacular plays when sophomore Kyle DeMerritt, a high school teammate of Couch, made a herculean leap to get the pitcher out of a tough inning against San Jose State earlier in the season.