June 3, 2006
(Lincoln, NE) - San Francisco's magical season continued Saturday with a 5-1 upset of national No. 6 seed Nebraska Saturday afternoon at Hawks Field at Haymarket Park. The Dons (39-22) got an outstanding start from sophomore left-hander Aaron Poreda (8-5), timely hitting and capitalized on some defensive miscues by the host Huskers (42-17) in front of a crowd of 7,144.
USF faces the winner of the Miami/Manhattan game in an afternoon game set for a 1:05 PM (CT) first pitch, 11:05 AM on the West Coast.
A little more than 12 hours removed from an inauspicious NCAA debut, an 11-2 opening round loss to Miami, the Dons regrouped in impressive fashion behind a masterful performance by Poreda, who tossed 6.2 innings, allowing just one run off four hits with five strikeouts in 6.2 innings in USF's inaugural NCAA Regional win.
San Francisco scored three runs in the second inning. Senior outfielder Stefan Gartrell reached on an error and advanced to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run by junior infielder Chris Bacigalupi giving the Dons runners at the corners with one out. Following a strikeout, Gartrell scored on a balk and a single and an error from sophomore infielder Joey Railey scored Baccigalupi from second base. Railey promptly advanced to third on the second balk of the inning by sophomore left-hander Tony Watson (10-2) and scored on an RBI single from junior outfielder Lucas DeLong.
"We played extremely hard today and we played well in contrast to yesterday's game against Miami," USF head coach Nino Giarratano said. "Aaron (Poreda) made pitches early, and our defense was flawless. We hadn't really had a break in four games, so we made the most of it with a good bunt. Those three runs really catapulted us to a good position."
Nebraska scored its lone run of the game on a solo home run by sophomore designated hitter Andy Gerch (5) with one out in the fourth. The Huskers mounted a major rally in the sixth, courtesy of back-to-back singles from sophomore shortstop Ryan Wehrle and senior infielder Brandon Buckman giving them runners at first and second with no outs. Poreda promptly struck out junior Andrew Brown and got a shallow fly ball to right off the bat of Gerch before walking junior outfielder Nick Jaros to load the bases. Poreda did not give in and retired sophomore infielder Jake Opitz on a flyout to end the threat.
"I thought I had a great shot (against Nebraska)," Poreda said. "I knew our defense and offense would take care of it, and I just kept making pitches. There was definitely a lot of pressure because we've never played against a crowd of this magnitude."
USF added a run in the sixth as Gartrell earned a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a passed ball and reached third on a groundout by junior designated hitter Blake Nelson. A Baccigalupi sacrifice fly made the score 4-1.
Railey capped off the Dons scoring with a solo homer - his second - to lead off the seventh inning. Railey finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and scored a pair of runs and moved past Scott Cousins for the team hits lead (81).
Senior right-hander Patrick McGuigan came on in relief of Poreda with two outs in the seventh and closed it out for the Dons, collecting his team-leading fifth save of the season. McGuigan went 2.1 innings, allowing just one hit and struck out a batter in his 18th career save - extending his all-time career lead.
NOTES: The 39 wins are the most in school history for USF baseball... Poreda's five strikeouts helped him crack the century mark for his career (101) and his eighth victory on the season moves him into a share of third place on the single-season wins chart... Railey's first career home run came at Sunken Diamond in a 9-4 victory at Stanford (4/17)... USF improves to 31-0 when leading after eight innings.