Brendan Hendriks played the role of hero for the Dons on Friday, hitting a walk-off home run in USF’s upset win over No. 2 Cal State Fullerton. (Photo by Dons Athletics)

Baseball: Brendan Hendriks’ 19th-Inning Homer Lifts Dons

USF went up early in Sunday afternoon’s game at No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, but couldn’t maintain the lead and lost the game 5-1. The loss was the second in the Dons three-game series against the Titans. San Francisco won the first match 6-5 in a grueling 19 innings, but was defeated 11-0 in the second game. This is USF’s second series loss of the year, and the defeat on Sunday drops their overall record to 3-4.

The Dons scored first in the third game of the series as freshman second baseman Matt Sinatro stole third base and went home after a missed catch. CSU Fullerton picked up the scoring from there, however, and soon went up 4-1 off of two two-run home runs by J.D. Davis and Greg Velazquez. Though they got men on base, USF was not able to bring anyone home and gave up another run to bring the game to the final score of 5-1. Titans pitcher Grahamm Wiest who showed the Dons a fierce battle all game long, striking out 10 and allowing just five hits in nine innings.

On Saturday, the Dons had an even worse outing, falling to the Titans 11-0 after an epic 19-inning game the night before. CSU Fullerton pitcher Justin Garza threw seven shutout innings while only giving up 5 hits, and accounted for 12 of his team’s 16 strikeouts.

“For us to strikeout 16 times, that’s just a collapse mentally and physically offensively, Dons head coach Nino Giarratano told usfdons.com. “We were a little tired. It’s not an excuse, they should have been just as tired as us. They were just more prepared to play every day and we need to get there.”

Just a day before, the Dons had managed to pull out a win against CSU Fullerton in a drawn out game that lasted for 19 innings. The Titans opened the scoring in the third inning off of a double-RBI by third baseman Matt Chapman, who was then batted in himself, bringing the score to 3-0.

The Dons were able to score two runs in the fourth off of an RBI home run by junior center fielder Bradley Zimmer, but they were matched by two CSU Fullerton runs in the bottom of the fourth, which further extended the Titans’ lead. USF bounced back in the sixth, however, and was able to tie the game off of another two RBI’s from Zimmer, who proceeded to score a run of his own off of a flyout to left field.

The scoring ended up staying locked at 5-5 and went into extra innings, where both teams went scoreless until junior designated hitter Brendan Hendriks ended the extravaganza with a walk-off home run that sailed over the right field wall and won the game for the Dons. Redshirt senior Houston Hibberd got the win on the mound for USF, pitching seven hitless innings while striking out six. Hibberd’s rock solid performance earned him West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week honors.

The score of the Dons’ Feb. 25 game at Stanford was not available at press time. San Francisco will now head north to take on the Sacramento State Hornets on Friday, Feb. 28 at 2:00 p.m.

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