Santa Clara Bruins’ starting pitcher Zach Penrod fearlessly attacked the strike zone from start to finish Tuesday afternoon. The senior would go the distance for a complete-game shutout. Santa Clara hitters scratched out three runs of support in the victory over Fremont.
“He was doing really well today, absolutely shut them out,” said Bruins’ catcher Noah Dembowski on Penrod. “It’s always helpful having a good pitcher on the bump to make it easier for me behind the plate.”
“Zach battled today, he is the type of kid who is going to dig deep,” remarked Bruins’ Head Coach Brad Comstock. “He’s the one pitcher this year that no matter what I’m saying, he’s listening. It’s nice to see him succeed because he’s doing everything I ask.”
Penrod was rarely in trouble as not a single Fremont base runner reached third base in the game. A highlight-reel defensive play for the Bruins came in the bottom of the seventh when center fielder Jake Millett sprinted about 25 yards back towards right-center field and made a nice high back-handed, leaping catch. Other than that, Penrod kept the Fremont hitters from barreling the ball.
“Coming out of the bullpen, I felt like I was struggling a little bit,” admitted Penrod. “But when I got a catcher who is willing to help me, it is good to pitch to him. My slider was working and I was able to get ahead with the fastball.”
While the Bruins’ offense mustered just three runs, they did give Penrod a 1-0 lead before he even took the rubber. Santa Clara left fielder Connor Valory led off the game by smoking the very first pitch down the left field line for a single. Valory would take advantage of a bobble on the play, ending up at second base.
Second-place hitter Justin Cedro would follow up with a bunt single and Valory would come home to score on the overthrow at first base.
“I want aggressiveness,” said coach Comstock on his offense when asked about Valory swinging at the first pitch of the game. “There’s not many guys in this league who throw hard, yet 80 percent of the guys in this league throw first-pitch fastball. If it’s down the middle, rack it. Connor has bought into my philosophy from the get-go. You can tell, he is having a heck of a year with the bat.”
“Lately it has been first pitch, if it’s there, drive it,” confirmed Valory. “Almost every time they throw fastballs to try and get ahead in the count.”
The Bruins would add a run in the fourth to go up 2-0. After an error and a couple of singles, freshman third baseman Jayce Dobie dropped a bunt down with Gabe Lopez sprinting home on the pitch. It was a dangerous squeeze play as the bases were loaded and there was a force at any base. Dobie dropped the perfect bunt though for the RBI.
In the seventh inning senior Jordan Davis roped a solid pinch hit single. Penrod’s younger brother Tyler Penrod would pinch run. The junior swiped second on a ball in the dirt. Soon after as he was stealing third, the throw went into left field allowing him to jog home for a 3-0 lead.
Santa Clara has now won four games on the season, tying their total for all of last season. The Bruins will look to improve to 5-3-1 when they host Fremont on Thursday, March 21.