(Courtesy USF Athletics)

USF baseball rallies to sweep Pacific in first WCC series of season

For a moment on Sunday, things were not looking good for the Dons.

University of the Pacific (7-13, 0-3) had just scored five runs to tie the game at 6-6 in the top of the ninth inning, but the University of San Francisco baseball team (12-7, 3-0) would not give up and ended up winning, 7-6, sweeping the three game series thanks to a clutch hit by center fielder Tyler Villaroman.

“We were ahead 5-0, then 6-0 and felt pretty good going into the ninth, with 6-1 lead you feel confident with your best arm on the mound,” said manager Nino Giarratano. “But he made some pitches he wish he could take back, and they had some big hits and before you know it the momentum switched. It was a big pitch by Slominski to get us out of the inning and keep it at a 6-6 game.”

Tigers pitcher Ryan Shreve walked second baseman Aaron Ping to begin the ninth inning for the Dons. Freshman third baseman Jack Winkler hit a single and then Shreve walked his second batter of the inning, outfielder Jonathan Allen,  which the sophomore Villaroman up with loaded bases.

“Every player wants to be in that spot, so when you are up there you know what you got to do,” Villaroman said.”I wasn’t really thinking at all, just trying to get the ball into play.”

The pitcher threw the ball and Villaroman made contact, sending the ball over the third basemen into left field, driving in Aaron Ping for the winning the run.

“Our guys were great on offense in the ninth,” Giarratano said. “We got some really good at-bats. Ping, Allen, and Winkler all had great at-bats. Ping was especially wonderful to go from 0-2 to a walk and then Villaroman came in there and he just put a really good swing on it.”

Villaroman ended the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Junior catcher hit 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run while Winkler was 2-for-3 with one RBI.

The game Sunday against the Tigers was the last in a three game series which the Dons swept 3-0. They had won the previous games on Friday and Saturday by the scores of 9-2 and 9-1. The series was the beginning of conference play for USF.

“Always good to be undefeated in conference,” Giarratano said. “We go to Portland next weekend. Hopefully we can keep this string alive and see where it takes us.”

The Dons play the University of Nevada at home at Benedetti Diamond on Tuesday at 2 p.m. and then head up to face WCC foe University of Portland for a three game series from March 23-25.

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