June 2, 2006
(Lincoln, NE) - USF baseball opened the first NCAA Regional in school history against a Miami team competing in its NCAA-record 34th consecutive postseason. Chalk on up for experience as the Hurricanes dispatched the Dons 11-2 on a beautiful Friday night at Hawks Stadium at Haymarket Park.
San Francisco (38-22) showed signs of nerves early playing on the biggest stage in front of an announced crowd of 3,457, while it was business as usual for Miami (37-21). The Hurricanes scored two in the first and three in the second to take an early lead they would not surrender en route to their eighth straight victory in regional action.
USF now plays regional host Nebraska at 11:05 AM (PT) Saturday in an elimination game. Manhattan, the No. 4 seed, shocked the Huskers 4-1 in the opener on Friday. The game will be broadcast live in the Bay Area on Comcast SportsNet West.
Miami came out swinging hot bats from the start, sending six to the plate in the first and eight in the second against junior left-hander Scott Cousins (4-3), who allowed nine runs (eight earned) off nine hits and struck out four in 5.1 innings.
Junior catcher Jonathan Norfolk became the answer to the trivia question with a two-out single in the second inning and added an RBI in the fourth as San Francisco scored its first-ever run in the NCAA Tournament in the frame. Cousins drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a second straight walk to senior outfielder Stefan Gartrell. After sophomore outfielder Luke Sommer popped out, Jonathan Norfolk reached on an error, allowing Cousins to come around to score.
Trailing 6-1 heading into the top of the sixth, USF loaded the bases as a leadoff single from senior infielder Andrew Smith, who reached second on an error on a fielder's choice from Cousins followed by a walk to Sommer. Pinch-hitter Blake Nelson drew a walk to make the score 6-2, but Miami got out of the inning and tacked on four in the bottom of the frame to put away the Dons.
"A lot of credit is due to Miami," USF head coach Nino Giarratano said. "They got a double on the first pitch of the game and we just never regained our feet. We had our opportunities, but we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to keep the game close. Give credit to them, they pitched well and their defense played outstanding."
USF could not solve Danny Gil (3-2), who in just his third start of the season allowed two unearned runs off three hits and struck out four in 5.1 innings.
"First, Miami has a great team," Cousins said. "I wasn't able to get my command and it turned out to be a tough day for me. I made mistakes and they made me pay. I didn't give my team a chance to compete like I should have."
Sophomore shortstop Tavo Hall collected the only extra-base hit for the Dons - a double in the seventh.
USF will send sophomore left-hander Aaron Poreda (7-5) to the mound against Nebraska in Saturday's elimination game and he will square off against Nebraska sophomore left-hander Tony Watson (10-1).