The San Francisco Dons were handed their first loss of the 2011 NCAA baseball tournament as they lost to the UC Irvine Anteaters 4-3 following a furious attempted Dons rally in the ninth. The loss drops USF to 1-1 in the Los Angeles bracket and sets up a rematch with the UCLA Bruins in the loser’s bracket. UC Irvine advances to face the winner of the USF and UCLA Sunday evening.
Irvine jumped on top 1-0 in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by D.J. Crimlich. They added three more runs in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Brian Hernandez and a two-run home run by Drew Hillman. USF notched a run in the sixth on back-to-back wild pitches and that appeared to be it for them.
However, the Dons had one last rally attempt in them in the ninth inning. After Irvine starter Matt Whitehouse forced a ground out of Nik Balog, he allowed the next two runners to reach base in unforced situations. Whitehouse struck out Travis Higgs with a pitch in the dirt that allowed Higgs to reach first. Whitehouse then hit Adam Clear to put men on first and second.
The Anteaters brought in Brian Hernandez to face Matt Chavez. Chavez grounded to short but an error on the double play attempt allowed Higgs to score and Chavez to advance to second. Ted Lemasters then hit for Jason Mahood and proceeded to hit a 2-1 double to left center that scored Chavez and cut the lead to 4-3. The Anteaters brought in Jimmy Litchfield to pitch to Mason Morioka and Litchfield got the game-ending strikeout.
USF now finds itself in an elimination contest with the UCLA Bruins. USF knocked off UCLA on Friday to open the tournament and will need another upset if they’re going to stay alive. UCLA advanced in the loser’s bracket with a 3-1 victory over Fresno State that eliminated the Bulldogs. Five of the sixteen two seeds have been eliminated, with eight more one loss away from elimination.