Dons baseball headed out East to South Carolina for the Coastal Carolina Tournament to face off against No.18 Coastal Carolina (9-5) twice and Albany (3-4) and Winthrop (5-6) once each. After their four games they were able to muster two offensive powered wins and two losses.
In USF’s first game of the tournament, they took the diamond against the University of Albany Great Danes. To kick off the game, Albany drew a walk and the lead-off man advanced to second base off a passed ball and scored from a fielder’s choice for a 1-0 lead. After a 2-run double in the second inning, USF took a 2-1 lead. The Great Danes were able to level the game at two runs a piece in the third. Over the duration of the third and fourth innings, San Francisco rattled off six runs to take a 9-2 lead. Senior Manny Ramirez Jr. smashed long-ball out to left-center for two more runs and a 11-4 lead. The Dons were able to tack on one more insurance run in the seventh inning. In the eighth and ninth innings, Albany nearly climbed all the way back into the game by manufacturing and powering seven runs to close the deficit to 11-12, all without giving up an out. Relief pitcher Joey Carney came in and recorded the save after inducing inducing a popout, groundout, and strike out. En route to securing a 12-11 win, seniors Nico Giarratano, Manny Ramirez Jr. and juniors Michael Perri and Ross Puskarich all had two-hit games.
San Francisco’s second game of a double-header came against Coastal Carolina. It was a display of power baseball. Once again the opposing team was quick to strike first, smacking a two-run homer in the first inning. USF evened the score in the second inning thanks to a two-run homer by sophomore Brady Bate. The Chanticleers retook the lead after a solo home run of their own and the Dons took it back after a their own pair of lone-trippers. In the seventh inning USF packed on one more run, this time off a single, for a 5-3 lead. Carolina got one run back after another homer to close the gap. In the eighth inning, Coastal Carolina retook the lead with some clutch two-out hitting, smacking a pair of doubles and a single to record three runs. With a 5-7 scoreline, USF had to swallow the tough loss.
Game three of the tournament the next day was against the Winthrop Eagles. After three innings of play, USF jumped out to a 4-0 lead. In the bottom of the third, Winthrop strung together a few hits and with the help of solid base running, pulled two runs back, 2-4. Junior Aaron Ping homered in the fourth for a 5-2 lead. On top of an RBI-single in the seventh by Puskarich, San Francisco piled four more the runs in the eighth inning for a 10-4 lead. For their ninth run of the game, with Matt Sinatro on third, Giarratano stole second and Sinatro broke for home on the throw and reached safely. Just as a cherry on top, junior Dominic Miroglio popped a solo shot for an eleventh and final run for a final score of 11-6.
The final game of the tournament was a rematch against Coastal Carolina and USF couldn’t get their offense rolling. The Dons were only able to scrape together three hits and one walk. Although USF struck first thanks to a Ramirez Jr. RBI-double, the Chanticleers scored 6 unanswered runs. Even with a clean defensive games, five walks and a hit-by-pitch was just too much for San Francisco to work past.
The Dons are sitting comfortably with an 8-5 record with four games left before the start of WCC play. San Francisco will take on Grand Canyon University (3-6) in Phoenix, AZ this upcoming weekend, March 10-12. Be sure to follow live online and usfdons.com