Dons hold their potential spot in conference tournament with big series win

4/9/22: USF BSB vs Gonzaga at Benedetti Diamond in San Francisco, CA. Image by Chris M. Leung for USF Dons Athletics

Last week, the men’s baseball team won a crucial conference series against the Brigham Young University Cougars. The Dons came out victorious in the first two games but were unable to get the sweep due to a bounce back by the Cougars in game three. The series win helps USF’s tournament chance, keeping them in the last conference tournament spot.

USF took care of business in game one of the series on Thursday, April 28 with a dominating 8-3 victory. Sophomore Luke Keaschall extended the lead early for the Dons with a three RBI double that put USF up 4-0 in the bottom of the second. The Cougars were able to respond in the next half inning with a solo home run by freshman Collin Reuter, but they were unable to piece enough hits together to pressure the Dons, thanks to an impressive start on the mound by graduate student Jonah Jenkins. Jenkins allowed only one run on four hits and ended his six innings pitched with a grand total of eight strikeouts.

The Cougar’s late push in the ninth was no use as the Dons had already extended their lead to seven runs with the help of graduate student Gabe Giosso, who hit an RBI double in the fourth inning. Keaschall followed up with an RBI single and senior Harris Williams III with a two RBI home run that put the game out of reach in the eighth.

Friday’s win proved to be much more of a challenge for the Dons as they battled back and forth with the Cougars in a high scoring contest. USF started out strong, gaining a 3-1 lead going into the fourth thanks to an RBI double by redshirt senior Nick Yovetich and a two RBI single by Williams III. BYU quickly responded though, scoring five runs from a series of RBI singles in the fourth inning that put the Cougars up 6-3. The action continued in the fourth as USF scored four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning due to a combination of fielding errors committed by the Cougars and RBI doubles by Keaschall and Giosso. The 7-6 lead for USF did not last long though, as freshman Ozzie Pratt was able to score a run on a sacrifice fly to tie up the ball game in the sixth.

BYU was then able to take the lead in the top of the eighth from a RBI single by junior Ryan Sepede. USF responded when they needed to the most, as senior Darius Foster came in as a pinch runner and scored a run from a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Then sophomore Mario DeMera’s clutch RBI single gave the Dons a 9-8 lead going into the ninth inning. From there, junior Josh Mollerus was able to earn a save on the mound, recording two strikeouts in the top of the ninth to ensure a victory for the Dons.

The Dons were unable to end the series on a good note, falling 12-4 in a game that started off differently than their two previous wins. USF struggled from the beginning, allowing four runs in the first inning, two of which coming from hit-batsmen that each forced in a run. The game became significantly out of reach in the top of sixth when junior Jacob Wilk hit a grand slam that put BYU up 10-0. USF fought hard till the end, scoring four runs by the time the last out was recorded, but BYU still won decidedly 12-4.

USF will travel to Moraga for another conference series this weekend against the Saint Mary’s Gaels, starting this Friday, May 6.

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