With two, three-game sets remaining against West Coast Conference opponents, the Dons made the most of the first against the Portland Pilots (16-29, 3-18 WCC). San Francisco (19-30, 13-11 WCC) took two of the three games in Portland in blowout fashion and lost one game 2-5.
USF slapped 10 runs on the board for game three of the series. Every starter either got on base or drove in a run. Sophomore’s Brady Bate and Ross Puskarich had monster games, with each having two and three hits respectively. Bate homered during one at-bat, and between the two drove in five RBI’s and crossed home five times. Junior Harrison Bruce drove in three of his own runs via sacrifice fly and a 2-RBI single. Junior starting pitcher James Kannenberg was masterful on the mound tossing 7.0 innings of 2-hit ball, he also gave up one unearned run. At game’s end, the score read 10-3 in the Don’s favor.
Game two of three, unfortunately, didn’t go San Francisco’s way as the Dons fell 2-5. Bodies on base definitely weren’t a problem for USF. The Dons were able to gather seven hits and drew five walks, but the problem was moving runners over. San Francisco was unable to get the clutch hits they needed to pack on runs. Freshman starter Thomas Ponticelli got through 4.2 innings of work but gave up four earned runs. Junior relief pitcher Mack Meyer came in for 3.1 innings of shutout ball but USF just couldn’t find their rhythm offensively.
The first game was much like the series finisher. San Francisco packed on the offense and did it with heads up baserunning and the long ball. Junior Allen Smoot smashed a three-run homer in the first, sophomore Aaron Ping hit a solo shot in the fourth, and Bate hit a two-run home run. Two of San Francisco’s runs came via wild pitch. USF’s last two runs came from a sac fly from junior Nico Giarratano and a fielder’s choice grounder that Smoot crossed home on. After chalking up 10 runs, the Pilots were only able to generate two runs of offense as a response. Senior starter Anthony Shew earned the win with 7.0 innings of work while striking out eight batters.
Next up is a crucial three-game set against Brigham Young University starting on Thursday, May 12 at home on Benedetti Diamond. Closing out against the Cougars, and some losses from Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount could give USF the fourth and final seed in the WCC Championships.
No matter the outcome, the WCC play has been remarkable. If we take into account that our home team played on foreign grass for their “home” games (and once the new field was done they still had to break it in), a 13-11 record is impressive. With an actual home field with some practice on, things are looking up for a team that only has three seniors.
The game score against Nevada on May 10 was unavailable at the time of print.
Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics