June 1, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. -- After suffering a bitter loss to Rice in 11 innings on Friday, USF played 13 innings against South Dakota State in an elimination game at the Eugene Regional with a much more favorable outcome.
A sacrifice fly by Bob Cruikshank with one out in the top of the 13th inning scored Bradley Zimmer to give the Dons a 4-3 victory over the Jack Rabbits in an elimination game at PK Park.
Senior Bob Mott pitched 3.2 innings in relief to earn the win while Abe Bobb retired both batters he faced in the 13th to earn his second save of the season.
USF (35-23) will play the loser of the Oregon-Rice game in an elimination game at 12 noon on Sunday with the winner advancing to play the remaining unbeaten team in the regional at 4:00 p.m.
Another superb pitching performance by the Dons picked up an offense that has scored just six runs in its last 33 innings dating back to the WCC Championship game a week ago.
"I'm not sure if anybody knows but we are trying to set the record for most innings played in a regional," quipped USF head coach Nino Giarratano after the game. "Hopefully we can play 18 innings over two games tomorrow and make it back on Monday."
Sophomore Christian Cecilio gave USF a solid start, allowing just five hits and one run in his five innings of work. Andrew Cimber, Ben Graff and Andrew Pulido were all effective out of the bullpen.
After pushing two runs across in the second inning on a safely squeeze by Josh Miller and a single by Ryan Matranga, USF's bats went silent, as South Dakota State pitchers retired 20 of the next 24 Dons and managed to score single runs in the second and eighth innings to tie the game at 2-2.
USF took a 3-2 lead with two outs in top of the 10th when Bradley Zimmer singled off the glove of second baseman Al Robbins, scoring Justin Maffei from second. However, the lead was short lived, as sloppy defensive play in the bottom of the inning allowed the Jacks to tie the game.
With Al Robbins on second base with one out, shortstop Josh Miller failed to come up with a grounder off the bat of Scott Splett. Daniel Telford then grounded to Jason Mahood at second, who flipped the ball to Miller to retire Splett, but Miller's wild throw to first base in an attempt to complete the double play allowed Robbins to score from second with the tying run.
South Dakota State had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the 11th, but Mott struck out Eric Danforth and Robbins to strand the winning run at third.
After both teams were retired in order in the 12th inning, Zimmer reached base safely to start the 13th on an error by second baseman Robbins. After a pair of walks, USF loaded the bases with no one out and Cruikshank delivered the sacrifice fly to left that scored Zimmer with the go-ahead run.
South Dakota State didn't go quietly in the bottom of the inning. After Mott allowed a one out single to Tyler Shannon, Bobb retired the last two batters of the game on groundouts to strand the tying run at second.
After playing 24 innings the last two games, USF faces the possibility of having to play two more games on Sunday, a challenge the Dons would obviously welcome.
Giarratano is hoping starter Alex Balog can work deep into the noon game tomorrow to provide much-needed rest for a bullpen that has worked 12.1 innings over the first two games of the regional.
"We're good from a starting standpoint and have some guys like Pulido who can extend for us. If we are fortunate enough to win, we will piece it together for the second game an do it on grit and will hopefully."