Sunday, April 17, 2011

Santa Clara Broncos 1 at Saint Mary's Gaels 0 (10, NCAA Baseball) - April 16, 2011

Nestled in the Moraga Hills just west of Oakland is Saint Mary's College of California, a small liberal arts school that has recently become known for its basketball program after advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in 2010. But they also have a baseball team who had an afternoon home game yesterday. With the Athletics playing in the evening, I had a few hours to spare, so I made the short, scenic drive into the hills and caught the Gaels taking on their West Coast Conference rivals, the Santa Clara Broncos.

Louis Guisto Field

Just to the right of the main campus entrance lies the home diamond of the Gaels, Louis Guisto Field. Unlike big program ballyards, Guisto has little other than a few bench seats around the backstop, with fences to protect the fans. There is also a open standing area on the other side of the first base dugout which affords clear views (as you can see below). All tickets are $7 and come with a roster page.

The press box is a dilapidated wooden structure with room for 3 or 4 media members. Man, I love these places, there is nothing to distract you from the game.

The Gaels have one retired number, that of knuckleballer Tom Candiotti who toiled for the Blue Jays among other teams way back when.

Stanford boasted about having the most beautiful setting for college ball, but Saint Mary's is just as nice in my opinion. Yes, the facility itself is basic, but the scenic surroundings make up for it. If you are in the Bay Area, check out the Saint Mary's athletics website to see if there is a game.

The Game

J.R. Graham started for Santa Clara against Martin Agosta. Both pitchers were on their game, chucking zeros for 7 and 8 innings respectively. Brock Simon relieved Graham and continued the shutout, while Jordan Mills did likewise in the 9th inning for the Gaels. Which meant that we were scoreless going to extra innings.

Gael center fielder Cole Norton singles in the 8th

In the top half of the 10th, Stephen Takahashi reached on an infield single that might have been an error as third baseman Patrick Wisdom muffed it while ranging to his left. After a sacrifice and a walk, Mills got Justin Viele to pop out. Patrick Keane relieved but gave up a single to Kyle DeMerrit that scored Takahashi with the first run of the game.

In the bottom of the 10th, Saint Mary's responded when Brendan Kalfus belted a one-out double down the right field line, the first extra-base hit of the game (above). Shawn O'Brien pinch hit and singled to move Kalfus to third.

Toby DeMello (above) then struck out looking to bring the Gaels down their final out. Then O'Brien went from hero to goat, breaking from first too early (the Saint Mary's recap says this was an intentional rundown in an attempt to score the tying run). Simon threw to second and they had O'Brien. As the throw went back to first, Kalfus broke for home but the throw there was in plenty of time. Kalfus tried to return to third, but stumbled and was tagged out by third baseman DeMerrit to end the game. What a terrible way to lose for Saint Mary's as the Broncos prevailed 1-0 in 10 innings.


After watching a 1-0 game in Stanford on Friday in which the only run was scored in the first inning, I saw another 1-0 game in which the only run was scored in the 10th. That makes 17 consecutive scoreless innings, a record that's tough to beat. NCAA baseball is certainly no longer the slugfest it used to be.

One of the nice things about these small parks is that you can hear the happenings on the field. Late in the game, the umpire (who had been consistent in my opinion) called a borderline pitch a ball. I thought it was a strike and so did the Saint Mary's coach, who made a comment. Well, the ump did not take kindly to that and came towards the dugout pointing at the coach and yelling "That pitch was inside! You can't argue balls and strikes!" in what was an obvious overreaction. The crowd immediately went silent as the coach shouted in reply, "I wasn't arguing balls and strikes, I was just asking my catcher. You've been calling it for them the whole game!".

Things escalated from there, with both men (boys?) yelling at each other until the coach was quickly tossed. From there, he came out of the dugout screaming "You can't come over here and point your finger at me and toss me. I was just asking my catcher!". While the coach was trying to get in the umpire's face to make his point, the umpire turned and they lightly touched. Oh oh. The umpire said "You bumped me! You're suspended!". The coach's reply: "I didn't bump you. You turned into me!". I am not making this up. This is the extent of manager/umpire arguments? The crowd was incredulous as neither was willing to back down, but eventually the coach realized there was no way he could win and headed back, steaming. Wow, who knew mid-major college ball was so competitive?

Schedule Changes

With the San Jose Sharks losing last night, Game 5 of their first-round playoff series is confirmed for Saturday, April 23rd at the HP Pavilion. I was originally planning to be there for an Arena Football League match featuring the San Jose SaberCats and the Philadelphia Soul, but this has been moved to Friday, when I was scheduled to see the Braves and Giants at AT&T Park. I've decided to watch the NHL playoffs and Arena Football games and will watch the Braves and Giants on Sunday afternoon, which happens to be World Series replica trophy giveaway day. This means I'll have to skip the AAA game in Fresno on Sunday and move straight to Bakersfield after the Giants game. As well, I'll miss the Cal baseball game on Friday afternoon; the 2:30 start time makes it unlikely I'll make it to San Jose in time for the AFL game.

Next Up

I'm in Oakland where I saw the Tigers and Athletics play last night and I'm about to head over to the Coliseum fore the finale of their four-game weekend set. The down to San Jose tomorrow for the California League Giants and a Santa Clara home game on Tuesday. Check back then for more updates.



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