Palo Alto High grad T.J. Braff delivered a two-out, RBI single in the ninth to score Greg Harisis from second with the winning run as Santa Clara topped visiting St. Mary's, 7-6, to qualify for the West Coast Conference Baseball Championships on Sunday.
Santa Clara overcame an early 5-1 deficit to win in walk-off fashion and finish the regular season with five straight WCC series victories.
"You can't script a better Senior Day than that, a day filled with memories that will last a lifetime," head coach Dan O'Brien said. "And after what these guys have been through, I can't think of a group who deserves the postseason as much as these seniors do. They've been model Broncos, tireless workers, great leaders, and have overcome so much. I'm just so proud of them."
Braff was 1-for-4 with two RBI, including the game-winning hit and a sacrifice fly in the fourth to help the Broncos improve to 16-11 in league, 26-28 overall.
"It says a lot about our team that we're coming back from these big deficits," Braff said. "People don't stop when they get at-bats, just taking it one batter at a time and we've been able to come back. Going into the playoffs that might happen to us, and we know that even when we're down, we always still have a chance. I've played three years with the seniors now and I just wanted to send them off right."
Braff is Santa Clara's third starting first baseman this season. The Broncos have won all five WCC series since he became a full-time starter in the San Diego series April 17-19, filling in for the injured Mac Hess. Braff has been a clutch hitter and a skilled, mobile defensive first baseman.
The Broncos finished 2014 West Coast Conference play tied for fourth place with San Diego, and finished ahead of the Toreros by way of a 3-0 head-to-head record. Santa Clara will face regular-season champion Pepperdine in the first game of the WCC Baseball Championship on Thursday at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton at 3 p.m.
Wayne Tinkle, whose daughter Joslyn played at Stanford, has been hired as head men's basketball coach at Oregon State. Tinkle previously coached at Montana for eight years.
Menlo School grad Jerry Rice Jr. will have a tryout with the San Francisco 49ers at their upcoming minicamp. Rice recently had a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens, but was not signed to a free-agent contract.
Menlo School grad Maggie Brown, who just graduated from Georgetown University, was named to the Big East Conference second team this week.
Brown is the first woman from Northern California to start for a top 20 Division I women's lacrosse team on the East Coast, the traditional hot spot of women's lacrosse. Georgetown lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to North Carolina after upsetting Johns Hopkins in the first round.
Brown, a defender, earned her first all-conference honor after starting all 20 games for the Blue & Gray this season. She picked up 20 ground balls as well as 13 draw controls and 12 caused turnovers along the way.
Former Stanford All-America Sara Hall finished second in the women's division of the 103rd annual Bay to Breakers on Sunday in San Francisco. Hall clocked 40:27 while chasing winner Diane Johnson to the finish line. Johnson won in 40:19.
Gunn High grad Tori Tyler raced home 10th in the women's division while clocking 43:39.
Palo Alto High student Lily Zhang will represent the United States at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in August in Nanjing, China.
Palo Alto's JLS Middle School wrapped up its season recently by winning the Peninsula Wrestling Middle School League Championships at Red Morton Community Center in Redwood City.
JLS had six individual champions in Miguel Reyes, Sal Ruiz, Mathew Lin, Callam Day Ham, Alex Feghhi and Zane Hake. Reyes also was awarded the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler award for the upper weights.
Hake was the team's only returning champion.
More than 150 wrestlers from 10 schools took part in the meet. JLS has now won the title five times in the past six years under head coach Braumon Creighton and assistants Steve Matteucci and Calvin Nicholls.