On Sunday, the Dons closed out a three-game series in Los Angeles against LMU on a low note, losing 5-4 on redshirt senior pitcher Houston Hibberd’s eighth-inning balk that sent home the game-winning run.
USF struck first in the third game of the series, building an early 4-0 lead thanks to clutch hitting by senior first baseman Zack Turner and junior center fielder Bradley Zimmer, who has now recorded a hit in 18 consecutive games. LMU, however, scored four runs in the fifth inning, turning a 4-0 deficit into a tie ballgame.
The game remained tied at four until the bottom of the eighth inning, when LMU’s David Edwards proceeded to hit a double, steal third, and then force Hibberd into a balk. Edwards was then awarded a run, putting the Lions up by one. USF had one more chance to respond in the ninth inning, but was unable to convert. The loss puts the Dons (15-15) back at .500 on the season and 5-7 in West Coast Conference play.
On Saturday, San Francisco took care of business against the Lions, winning handily 9-3. The Dons had a big day offensively, scoring eight runs in the first two innings while junior pitcher Christian Cecilio held LMU to just three total runs in a great outing that spanned 6.2 innings. The Dons’ offense took advantage of LMU pitcher Patrick McGrath early and often, as evidenced by Zimmer’s leadoff triple. Junior right fielder Derek Atkinson knocked in Zimmer two batters later with a single back up the middle, and from then on the runs began to pour in.
After the first inning, the Dons had tallied five runs. McGrath would end up surrendering eight runs in 1.2 innings, including six earned, along with nine hits and two walks. Combining Saturday’s win with their victory on Friday, the Dons notched a two-game winning streak for the first time since March 25.
In the series opener on Friday, USF and LMU were locked in a tie ballgame until a three-run eighth inning from the Dons vaulted them ahead for good and helped them secure a 6-4 victory. Junior first baseman Brendan Hendriks broke the stalemate with an RBI single up the middle. An ensuing error by LMU second baseman David Edwards allowed two more to score and put the Dons up 6-3, a lead that would be held by Dons closer Hibberd, who fanned Edwards and forced a game-ending double play to seal LMU’s fate.
Atkinson had a productive day at the plate, accumulating three hits and an RBI. The Dons’ senior right hander Abe Bobb shut down the LMU offense, allowing only three runs to come from 13 hits while not walking a single batter. Senior left hander Ben Graff relieved Bobb, pitching 1.1 innings of perfect baseball to ensure that Hibberd had a chance at the save opportunity.
The result of the Dons’ game against San Jose State on Tuesday, April 8 was not available at press time. The Dons now turn their focus to the Pacific Tigers, whom they will host on Friday, April 11 at 3:00 p.m. in the first game of a three-game series. Pacific is tied with USF for 6th place in the WCC, and is 14-19 overall on the season.