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USF Takes Control of the WCC

Merrick Belding
Staff Writer

The San Francisco Dons (22-19, 14-4 WCC) walked into San Diego just one game behind the Toreros, but after sweeping San Diego and winning 11 out of their past 12 games, San Francisco finds themselves on top of the WCC. This marks the first time in Giarratano-era that the Dons have swept The Toreros. 

“It was a great weekend by our guys, the way they stayed with it,” head coach Nino Giarratano said. “First place is great right now but the goal is to be in first place at the end of the year. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The Dons took the first game of the three game series 9-6 behind a stellar performance from junior Anthony Shew (5-3) who gave up one run through 8.0 innings. The Dons’ bullpen struggled in the bottom of the ninth giving up five runs to USD, but came out with a victory and a shared possession of first place in the WCC. Junior Michael Eaton had an impressive day at the plate knocking in three RBI’s; the second baseman has a .407 batting average over his last eight games.

“We got a break at the start of the game and we put together some great at bats,” Giarratano said. “We’re in first place and that’s what we need to focus on and we’ve got to get the kids to see that. I’d like to focus on us being 20-9 since the start of March. They’ve played as good of baseball as anybody over the last 30 games.”

During game two on Saturday, the Dons battled and took sole possession of first place after a 6-2 victory behind senior Christian Cecilio (5-1). Senior center-fielder Derek Atkinson raked a triple and homerun to go 2-for-5 and drive in three runs. The Dons’ offense is coming together as the top five hitters in the order combined to go 11-for-23 on the day.

“The offense was sharp again today,” Giarratano said of his offense, which punched out 12 hits on Saturday. “I was very pleased with how we swung the bats against Conlon. We had a good approach, we saw it well.”

San Francisco completed the sweep on Sunday’s series finale with a score of 6-4 over San Diego. The Dons took an early lead thanks to a solo shot by sophomore shortstop Nico Giarratano in the first. Giarratano extended his hitting streak to 12 games. In the third inning senior first baseman Brendan Hendricks crushed a double to deep center field scoring Giarratano and senior right-fielder Connor Hoffman. After San Diego tied the game in the fifth, USF added a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth to seal the sweep. San Francisco’s bullpen was sharp, using five players in relief and allowing only one run through five innings.

Coach Giarratano said, “This is a start and we need to enjoy it today and get back to work on Monday.” Giarratano also added, “I’m really happy about the contributions from the bullpen today.”

The score of San Francisco’s game against Sacramento on Tuesday was unavailable at the time of print. The Don’s will start another three-game series against WCC foe Brigham Young on Thursday April, 23.

Photo Credits: Dons Athletics

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