The Dons offense went on an absolute tirade during the rubber match against Santa Clara Broncos (8-30, 4-11 WCC) last weekend but it was a build-up until that day. Friday’s match was settled by one-swing of the bat by Santa Clara and Saturday was a pitcher’s duel. It was a nail-biting weekend on route to a 2-1 series win for San Francisco.
Friday’s game was slow to start. After going three and a half scoreless innings with a grand total of three hits, the Broncos were finally able to breakthrough in the bottom of the fourth inning. SCU blasted a 3-run homerun. In the sixth inning San Francisco was able to get one run back after Harrison Bruce singled, stole second and Nico Giarratano singled Bruce in. USF put up a second run in the eighth inning after some solid base-running. Tyler Villaroman pinch ran after Ross Puskarich singled through the right side of the field. Villaroman stole second, then Brady Bate was hit-by-pitch. Bruce flied out and both Villaroman and Bate were able to tag-up to second and third. Matt Sinatro flied out deep to center and Villaroman was able to cross home while Bate dashed to third. Santa Clara threw a wild-pitch but the ball didn’t carom far enough for Bate to steal home and was ultimately tagged out. Santa Clara closed the door in the ninth for a 3-2 series-opening win.
Game two was a pitcher’s duel. San Francisco sent out Thomas Ponticelli who tossed a 2-run, 104-pitch complete game. The Broncos started nearly matched Ponticelli tossing 7.0 innings of 2-run ball but the SCU bullpen couldn’t keep the scoreline intact. Things didn’t look great to start for San Francisco though. In the bottom of the first inning Ponticelli let a pitch slip and hit a batter with the bases loaded, sending a Bronco across home with a free pass. Still with just one-out, Ponticelli induced a ground-ball and USF got out of the first inning after a beautifully turned 1-2-3 double-play. Santa Clara held the 1-0 lead until the fourth when the Dons tied it up after an error lead to an unearned run. The 1-1 deadlock was broken in the seventh inning after Sinatro tripled two runs home for a 3-1 lead. Even with just one out, USF was unable to get Sinatro to travel the last 90 feet after a pop out and ground out. Ponticelli was still spinning a wonderful 1-run game but ran into some trouble in the eighth inning. With one out and runners on first and second, a Bronco batter singled to center; their runner on first advanced to second and tried to take third by surprise but ended up taking a slow walk back to the SCU dugout after getting tagged out. Puskarich padded on an insurance run with a solo blast in the ninth for a 4-2 lead. Ponticelli finished his day with 10 punchouts en route to his second win of the season.
The series finale was pure offense, a much different beat from the day before. Everyone got in on the fun as both teams logged sixteen hits. Santa Clara put up a lucky number seven in the runs column but San Francisco exploded for twelve. Dominic Miroglio himself went a perfect 5-of-5 at the plate, scored once, and drove in two runs. Even with nineteen runs scored during the duration of the game, only two homers were hit and they were both lone-trippers. In fact, the Broncos were first to strike with their first batter hitting said homerun and packing on two more runs before the end of the first. By game’s end: Bruce, Riley Helland, Giarratano, Miroglio, and Allen Smoot all logged RBI’s and everyone crossed home plate except Puskarich. It was definitely a Sunday spectacle for San Francisco’s rubber match against Santa Clara. The 12-7 win that put them back over .500.
Now with a 21-20, 7-11 WCC record, USF will head to Utah to face BYU in a three-game set from April 27 to April 29. Be sure to follow live on usfdons.com or BYUTV.
Photo: Dons Athletics/ Flickr