Diamond Dons Clutch Offense Yields Long Awaited Sweep

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An exciting, back-and-forth 7-4 victory for the Dons completed the three game sweep of the No. 30 Gonzaga Bulldogs last Sunday, April 22 at Benedetti Diamond. San Francisco (19-24, 6-6 WCC) took two narrow wins off the Bulldogs of Spokane, Washington (26-12, 6-6 WCC) on Friday and Saturday, coming out on top by just one run both days.

The come-from-behind 4-3 victory on Friday, April 20 was a result of a two-run single by senior left fielder Ted LeMasters. The Dons had lost a one run lead in the eighth, but brought the score back to an even 2-2 on a sharp ground ball up the first baseline, which bounced off of first base and into fair territory, by freshman outfielder Bradley Zimmer.

Junior right-hander Kyle Zimmer started on the mound for San Francisco. He threw eight innings, struck out 10 and walked just one. Junior left-hander Elliott Waterman earned the save for the Dons, striking out one in the ninth.

Saturday’s 2-1 victory in game two of the series was much more of a pitching and defensive battle than Friday, with just four hits in the game from the Dons and six from the Bulldogs. Senior first baseman Nik Balog gave USF the final lead on an RBI single to right field in the sixth inning.

Sophomore right-hander Alex Balog earned the win for USF on eight and one-third innings with two strikeouts, two walks and one earned run. Waterman once again closed the game for San Francisco, earning the save.
The Dons, true to their San Francisco nature, defeated the Zags by the biggest margin on the foggy and cool Sunday afternoon that followed two games in the sunshine and heat. The 7-4 victory in the series finale marked the first time that San Francisco has swept WCC rivals Gonzaga since 2003.

“I’ve been here for four years and we’ve never swept the Bulldogs, so it’s fun to finally do,” Nik Balog said.
The game had fans on the edge of their seats with three ties and three lead changes, as well as the combined 11 runs, 32 hits and four errors. USF’s total of 19 hits was good enough for a season high, topping their previous record of 17 hits against Loyola Marymount on April 17.

Nik Balog was key on the offensive once again for the Dons, going 4-for-5 at the plate and earning two RBIs. Senior shortstop Adam Clear added another RBI on a 3-for-5 performance.

USF’s Waterman retired the final two batters of the game, earning his third save of the series and his sixth of the season. He is now one save away from tying for the top spot in the San Francisco record books for saves in a season. Waterman has an impressive 1.24 ERA and 30 strikeouts in his 29.0 innings of play this season.
The Dons performed well in every aspect of the game on Sunday, putting together a solid win to complete the sweep against the disheartened Bulldogs. “When you play defense, you pitch, and you hit the ball like we did, its hard to lose ballgames,” Nik Balog said.

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