The Santa Clara Bruins were facing a tough, higher-division opponent in the Leland Chargers on Saturday afternoon — but the 12-2 final score doesn’t tell the whole story.
Santa Clara used this non-league game to get some work in for sophomore starting pitcher Gareth Copley. It was a tough task for the young southpaw, who battled through a couple of innings before giving way to the bullpen. As for the Bruins’ bats, Santa Clara probably should have managed five or six runs instead of just the two. The Bruins had a base runner in each of the first four innings, before finally breaking through with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull within 7-2 at that point.
“I’m just trying to see and make sure that we have character, that we don’t give up,” said Bruins Head Coach Brad Comstock on the lopsided loss. “Did I think we were gonna win this game? No. I don’t know if I would have even scheduled it knowing they were going to be as big and strong and as good as they were and knowing that we aren’t at that level yet. We are a good B team, but can we compete with the A teams? No, not yet.”
Coach Comstock acknowledged that the game could have gone differently had they started one of their top pitchers. (More often than not high school baseball teams will save top pitchers for league games, so it’s not too surprising the Bruins chose to get other pitchers innings.) The game could have also gone differently had a few of the early innings gone just a tad better for the Bruins’ offense. Santa Clara had two runners on and just one out in the bottom of the first, had a runner get picked off at second base to end the second, leadoff hitter Conor Valory reached with a one-out bunt single in the third and cleanup hitter Noah Dembowski led off the fourth inning with a walk.
“That’s our problem, when we do get runners on, we don’t connect the next couple batters,” remarked coach Comstock on the missed opportunities. “When you’re facing a good pitcher, you got to take advantage of everything that you can and we didn’t.”
The Bruins finally scratched across some runs in the bottom of the fifth. Center fielder Jake Millett beat out an infield single to the shortstop and then second-baseman Justin Cedro followed up by smoking a triple over the right fielder’s head. Cedro would then score easily on a wild pitch.
“We were down 7-0 so I was just trying to swing hard and drive in the runner,” said Cedro on his triple. “It was a fastball right down the middle and I had two strikes on me, so I was just ready to swing at anything.”
Santa Clara sees their overall record fall to 9-6-1 with the loss. They do, however, remain a solid 7-2 in league play. Their next league game will be at Gunn on Tuesday, April 23.