The Santa Clara Bruins baseball squad showed off their scrappy style of play on Tuesday in a non-league matchup against the Willow Glen Rams. Strong pitching through the first four innings from Sebastian McMahon, and perfectly executed small ball saw the Bruins erase a mere 1-0 deficit with a three-run fourth.
The visitors’ rally was started off with a solid single up the middle by McMahon himself. After a balk call moved McMahon over to second, the unselfish Orlando Lewis laid down a brilliantly placed bunt along the third base line for a single. Not often do middle of the order hitters enjoy bunting, but Lewis previously batted leadoff last season and still loves to utilize his foot speed.
“We don’t have the type of team we have last year, so we all have to play some small ball, and Orlando is just as willing to do that as any of our guys,” remarked Bruins Head Coach Pedro Martinez. “We did a pretty good job today with small ball, probably should have done more of it.”
After the bunt, Andrew Traffas followed up and was hit by the first pitch he saw to load the bases. Matthew Conklin followed suit with the bases loaded and nobody out. Conklin’s high chopper to third base saw the third baseman throw low and in the dirt to home plate and the ball got away from the catcher to the backstop. Lewis came all the way around from second base to score a second run on the play, sliding in headfirst into home plate for the go-ahead run.
Later in the inning, Steven Souza would drop another nice bunt single down the third baseline, setting the table for sophomore Conner Houle. With two outs and the bases loaded again, Houle would beat out a slow ground ball to shortstop to give the Bruins a third run in the inning.
Santa Clara would carry the 3-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning when Willow Glen started to make some loud contact off McMahon. By the end of the inning, the Rams had dropped a four-spot on the Bruins, taking a 5-3 lead into the sixth.
“[McMahon] was dealing, he was doing his job on the mound, throwing strikes,” chimed Souza who was behind the plate as McMahon’s batterymate. “I think they were just able to time up the fastball a bit in the fifth inning. He did a great job though for us overall.”
Nic Capps came in for relief of McMahon and got the final four outs for the Bruins, but not before the Rams would tack on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Santa Clara’s last ups in the seventh were relatively quiet. Capps would coax a walk in his plate appearance, but the Bruins wouldn’t get any closer, falling by a final of 7-3.
Santa Clara now sits at just 2-4 through the first six games of the non-league portion of the season. They have more non-league games upcoming this Friday, Saturday and Tuesday, but all three could be rained out.
The Bruins are scheduled to open league play March 22 against Los Altos.