June 5, 2011
LOS ANGELES --USF ended its season with a 4-1 loss to regional host No. 12 UCLA on Sunday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
"I'm extremely proud of the effort our players gave," USF coach Nino Giarratano said. "I feel like we represented the West Coast Conference to best of our ability after a win in game one and a 4-3 loss followed by a 4-1 loss to a ranked team at home. This was a tough regional and a great experience for our players. I hope the seniors are proud of what they accomplished this season and hold the memories of the West Coast Conference championship and NCAA Tournament with them forever."
Bruins' freshman starter Adam Plutko (7-4) yielded just one hit in 7.2 innings. The right-handed pitcher struck out six with two walks on 108 pitches. Plutko had a no-hitter going through four innings before Travis Higgs led off the bottom of the fifth with a double to left field.
Higgs went to third on a Matt Chavez sacrifice fly, but USF (32-25) could not bring him home.
The Dons mounted a rally in the ninth after Connor Bernatz notched the Dons only other hit of the game with a single up the middle. Stephen Yarrow reached after being hit by a pitch and the runners advanced one base each on a groundout from Nik Balog. Bernatz scored on an RBI groundout from Higgs. LeMasters drew a four-pitch walk to bring the tying run to the plate, but Chavez struck out looking.
UCLA (35-23) took an early lead in the top of the second off an RBI single from Pat Valaika --the Bruins' number nine hitter. The Bruins then led off the third with Jeff Gelalich reaching second off a fielding error by Balog at first. It was USF's first error in five games.
Dean Espy sent him home on an RBI single into center field. Cody Regis made it 3-0 in favor of UCLA with an RBI double down the right field line. The Bruins added their final run of the game in the top of the seventh on an RBI double down the left field line.
USF starter Jonathan Abramson (2-3) took the loss after yielding three runs on five hits with three strikeouts in 2.1 innings. Junior Jordan Remer's turned in his second-longest outing of the season going 4.2 innings. Remer gave up one run on two hits with three strikeouts. Classmate Cameron Love relieved Remer in the eighth, Elliott Waterman replaced Love in the ninth and Alex Balog entered the game for Waterman.
The Dons finished the season with a .985 fielding percentage, which tied an NCAA record set by West Virginia in 1971.
The 2011 Dons' baseball team made its way into the program record book in seven different categories. USF totaled a program-record 437 strikeouts this year and were second in saves in a season with 14. The team was fourth in wins (32), team ERA (3.76) and in innings pitched (510.1). USF finished the season with 116 doubles, which was the fifth best in school history, along with 16 conference wins.
Five different players turned in single-season totals that put them in the top 10 in program history. Bernatz totaled 14 sacrifice bunts, which was a school record. Nik Balog recorded 502 puts, which was the most in school history. Lavin's 20 doubles was tied for the third best season, his 82 hits were fifth best and 238 at bats were tied for fifth best. Higgs' 19 doubles put him in a tie for sixth most and sophomore Kyle Zimmer's 89 strikeouts was tied for the eighth-best total in Dons' history.
The Dons say good-bye to nine seniors: Matt Hiserman, Garrett Luippold, Matt Lujan, Stephen Yarrow, Sean Burns, Abramson, Bernatz, Higgs and Lavin.
"We are one step closer to what we want to do in this program and that's to make it to the Super Regionals and the College World Series," Giarratano said. "We need to catch the momentum from this year and use it going forward."