June 1, 2006
(Lincoln, NE) - What a remarkable 24 hours for USF Baseball. The Dons departed San Francisco International Airport in style Wednesday afternoon taking a charter for the three hour trip to Lincoln, Nebraska - site of the first NCAA Regional in program history for the Dons. After touching down in the Central Time Zone, USF boarded a charter bus for what the team thought would be a 20 minute trip to the hotel. Head coach Nino Giarratano had another destination in mind and an hour later the bus arrived in the parking lot of fabled Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the College World Series.
San Francisco ticket manager, Creighton alum Lenli Corbett and CWS volunteer gave a tour of the facility to a mesmerized audience. Giarratano, who coached on an Arizona State team that reached Omaha knew the message of the visit was not lost on his players.
"This is such a wonderful opportunity for our kids to see this facility and take in the atmosphere. This is a special place and it's a dream for almost everyone to play here. Every team competing in an NCAA Regional is six wins away from playing in this ball park to compete for a national championship," Giarratano said.
Thursday afternoon the Diamond Dons got their first look at Hawks Stadium at Haymarket Park. The facility seats nearly 8,400 people and USF should play in front of a near capacity crown in its opening game against Miami. After taking batting practice the Dons worked out in Nebraska's weight training facility - easily larger than the arena level of War Memorial Gym.
No less an authority than General George Sherman said an army marches on its stomach and the Dons are not an exception, taking full advantage of any and all eating opportunities, including the tournament banquet overlooking Nebraska's Memorial Stadium.
San Francisco gets its first taste of NCAA Regional action Friday when it takes on the Hurricanes at 5:00 PM (PT) in a game fans can listen to live on USFDons.com. Rich Cellini will handle the play-by-play duties, while former Dons hurler Peter Dunkle will add the color commentary. Gametracker will also be available for the contest.