Both the men’s and women’s teams capped off their winning seasons last weekend at the West Coast Conference Championships at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Calif. Each team advanced to the quarterfinal round but was eliminated thereafter.
For the USF Boxing Team, last weekend was the culmination of blood, sweat, tears and a long year that started well before the Hilltop Cup X in October. Six boxers representing USF traveled to Miami, Florida for the Second Annual United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association (USIBA) Championships, which took place from April 3-5, and two returned as national champions. Akira Chin and Ian Peterson were both crowned individual champions, and altogether the fighters’ efforts demonstrated the strength of USF’s boxing program, as well as its head coach, Angelo Merino.
This weekend’s series against the University of San Diego was a difficult one for the Dons, as they lost 15-9 on Friday and split a doubleheader on Sunday. The Dons are now seventh in the West Coast Conference with a conference record of 3-6.
Coming off of a four-game win streak, the Dons went into their first West Coast Conference series on Mar. 14-16 against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Benedetti Diamond hoping to set a tone for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, Gonzaga snatched three close games from USF, completing the sweep and handing the Dons an 0-3 start in conference action.
Bouncing back strongly from a three-game losing streak, the Dons hosted the Sacramento State Hornets this past weekend, taking two out of the three matches. On Saturday, USF shut down the Hornets 9-1 on the road, and then dropped the first of a doubleheader on Sunday by a score of 6-2 before winning the second game 9-5. Although the series was scheduled to start on Friday, Mar. 28 in Sacramento, the first game was postponed due to rain and re-scheduled as part of the Sunday double-header in San Francisco.
In Game Two of the doubleheader, the Dons struggled early, giving up five runs to the Hornets through five innings. However, they then prevented the Hornets from scoring any more runs, and rallied back from the bottom of the fifth inning onward.
In the fifth and sixth innings, freshman third baseman Matt Sinatro put two beautifully placed bunts down the third baseline that resulted in overthrown balls and errors for the Hornets, and extra base runners for the Dons. These bunts supplemented the rest of the Dons’ efforts, which included three RBI’s for junior center fielder Bradley Zimmer, whose double in the sixth that scored two runners. Senior first baseman Zach Turner pitched in with two hits, and a crucial double in the sixth inning from sophomore catcher Ryan Matranga put runners on second and third. A triple by junior designated hitter Brendan Hendriks gave the Dons the lead in the seventh.
“Bradley [Zimmer] played well,” head coach Nino Giarratano told usfdons.com. “We got some good offense out of most of our lineup. It’s good to see Zack [Turner] start to turn the corner and swing the bat”.
Redshirt senior Houston Hibbert picked up the win for the Dons after shutting down the Hornets’ hitters and picking up two strikeouts along the way. His record improved to 2-0.
Game One of the doubleheader was quite the opposite, as the Dons were shaken up in the first by a two-run home run from the Hornets, and could not recover. The Dons scored two runs in the second and sixth, but ended up losing by a final score of 6-2.
Despite the loss, there were several instances worth mentioning for the Dons. One came when junior third baseman Bob Cruickshank’s made a diving stop at third base. Also, in the sixth inning, a liner was crushed towards left field, but Cruickshank made another great play and threw out the runner at first to end the inning. Junior right fielder Derek Atkinson and Matranga both accumulated doubles, and Zimmer collected an RBI single in the third.
Junior left-handed pitcher Christian Cecilio gave up three hits, including the first inning home run, but also posted a career-high eight strikeouts through six complete innings.
On Saturday in Sacramento, in the first game of the three series, the Dons snapped their three-game losing streak by blowing out Sacramento 9-1 behind redshirt senior Abe Bobb’s solid pitching and outstanding hitting from the Dons.
The Dons combined for a total of 15 hits, including a solo home run from Cruikshank in the second, and a two-run home run from Zimmer in the sixth inning.
“We were able to score in the first three innings, and any time you can do that, you are going to have success,” Giarratano told usfdons.com.
Bobb pitched for eight complete innings, gathering five strikeouts and only allowing one run with two walks.
Now 5-6 this season, the Dons will travel to Evans Diamond in Berkeley this Friday, Mar. 7 to face the University of Arkansas. The game is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m.
The Dons opened their season last weekend in Riverside, Calif. against the UC Riverside Highlanders. It was a rough start to the season for the Dons, but they still managed to grab a victory on the road in their three-game series.