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June 03, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, June 03, 2005

Lancers steamrolled in baseball playoffs Lancers steamrolled in baseball playoffs (June 03, 2005)

By Scott Campbell

St. Francis became the third upset victim during No. 15 Santa Clara's remarkable run through the CCS Division I baseball playoffs. Unable to solve Bruins ace Carlos Hernandez, the No. 6 Lancers saw their season end with a 4-0 shutout at San Jose Municipal Stadium on May 25.

Having already defeated No. 2 Serra and No. 7 Valley Christian, Santa Clara had no qualms facing yet another West Catholic Athletic League power in the semifinals. And once the Bruins touched St. Francis pitcher Jared Lansford (7-4) for a 1-0 lead five batters into the game, they never looked back.

"The public schools, they always come out with a fire to beat the WCAL teams," said Lansford, a Santa Clara University signee. "You give them a run in the early innings ... they're not going to give up because they know they can score off you."

After Santa Clara shortstop Tim Mort lined a one-out single to center in the first inning, he stole second base and advanced to third as Lancers catcher Alex Dreyfuss' throw sailed into center field.

One batter later, David Berner smacked a hard grounder toward St. Francis first baseman Matt Zipse. Instead of being a routine third out, the ball took a crazy carom, shooting past Zipse and into the right-field corner, easily scoring Mort and sending Berner into second with an RBI double.

"I thought I was in front of it and it just skipped right out of the way," said Zipse. "It took a different hop."

Brooks Tamone followed with a single to center, but St. Francis center fielder Chris Viegas helped the Lancers avoid an early disaster by gunning down Berner at the plate.

With Lansford recovering to retire the next twelve Bruins, a tantalizing pitching duel developed as he and Hernandez set down batter after batter.

But for Hernandez (10-3), whose pinpoint control of breaking pitches left the normally potent Lancers' lineup looking overmatched, a one-run lead proved to be more than enough. The West Valley College-bound senior limited St. Francis to one hit, a first-inning double by Lansford off the center-field wall, while recording nine strikeouts.

Santa Clara (22-12) broke the game open with four consecutive singles to start the sixth inning that, along with a Lansford balk, led to three more runs and a 4-0 lead.

"It's all momentum," said Lansford, who posted eight strikeouts against one walk. "We didn't have one ounce of momentum the entire game."

For St. Francis coach Chris Volta, the emotions were familiar. As a senior pitcher for Santa Clara in 1986, he remembered losing his final game to eventual-champion Bellarmine in a CCS semifinal on the same field.

"It's a tough feeling," said Volta. "I'm experiencing it again."

Santa Clara's Cinderella story came to an end with a 10-3 championship-game loss to No. 4 Mitty on May 28, ending the Bruins' remarkable bid to defeat four consecutive WCAL teams en route to the title.

St. Francis finished its season with a record of 23-10.

E-mail Scott Campbell at [email protected]

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