Two weeks ago, the University of San Francisco baseball team held a lead over then-No. 7 Stanford through the top of the fifth inning.
For a team that counts a pair of sophomores among its top four hitters, it was an unexpected early-season coup. Until the Cardinal scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth, sending the Dons to their first of three losses in four games.
On Saturday, that same San Francisco team won its third and fourth game in a row, sweeping a split doubleheader against UC Riverside, 8-2, and Rider University, 5-4.
The Dons (9-5) followed up ace Riley Ornido’s Friday gem by banging out a combined 16 hits on the day, across two very different games.
San Francisco got a sparkling effort from redshirt senior starter Scott Parker, who evened his record at 1-1 by scattering three hits and three walks over a career-long six innings while striking out a career-high seven on 78 pitches against the Highlanders.
The Dons staked Parker to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, when Tyler Villaroman led off with a surprise bunt single, and came around to score on a Jonathan Allen 1-0 single into center. An RBI double and an error by shortstop Jack Winkler brought home a pair of runs for Riverside in the top of the second, but the Dons stormed back in the fourth.
Junior outfielder Jacob Munoz led off the frame with a full-count single through the right side, took second on a wild pitch and then moved to third on a balk by starter Shamus Lyons. Light-hitting junior New Mexico transfer Jacob Westerman popped a 1-1 single up the middle to drive in Munoz, tying things up. A squeeze bunt by Villaroman three batters later brought Westerman in.
The Dons scored another pair in the sixth, with an RBI single from Villaroman and a one-out, bases loaded HBP taken by Riley Helland. A two-out, bases-loaded double by redshirt junior Robert Emery in the bottom of the eighth provided the final margin.
In the afternoon tilt, the big blow came from Winkler, who saw his season-opening 12-game hitting streak end in the morning game. Winkler led off the scoring on a first-pitch, two-run home run to left center with one out in the bottom of the third.
San Francisco starter Grant Young allowed a leadoff double to first baseman Riley Mihalik in the top of the fourth, and an error, a bunt and a double play brought him around to score. The Dons got that run back in the bottom of the frame after a pair of walks and an RBI single by catcher Chase Hodkinson.
Young allowed a single and a double before a grounder to short loaded the bases.
Reliever Julian Washburn took over, hitting one man and walking another to bring home a run, before an RBI groundout to short put Rider up, 4-3. He got out of the inning bu inducing a grounder to short, which Winkler threw home to erase one runner, and then got a fly out to left end the inning.
Washburn settled down and allowed just two hits the rest of the way, striking out five. San Francisco evened things up in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Hodkinson, and then scored the eventual game-winner on a two-out single to center in the seventh by sophomore Nick Yovetich.
Though Washburn did allow two inherited runners to score, he extended the Dons’ bullpen’s scoreless streak to 10 1/3 innings. No San Francisco reliever has allowed a run since Tuesday in the top of the ninth versus San Jose State.
While Winkler’s season-starting 12-game hitting streak came to an end, he reached base multiple times in both games with four total walks and a hit-by-pitch, extending his reached base streak to 14 games.
San Francisco hitters drew 16 walks across the two games Saturday. Six players had multiple walks, including Winkler who led the team with four (three in game one).
The Dons conclude the weekend on Sunday afternoon with a 2 p.m. game versus UC Riverside at Benedetti Diamond.