Lincoln -- Left-hander Josh Santerre made an early lead stand up as the Manhattan Jaspers took advantage of several San Francisco miscues to earn a 6-4 victory in the NCAA Lincoln Regional elimination game Sunday afternoon in front of 1,057 fans at Hawks Field.
With the victory, the fourth-seeded Jaspers moved into the 6:05 p.m. regional championship game against second-seeded Miami Sunday. Manhattan, which fell to the Hurricanes in the winner's bracket game Saturday evening, needs to defeat UM twice to advance to Super Regional play next weekend.
Manhattan (34-22) jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning without recording a hit. Following a leadoff walk by Eric Nieto, Nick Derba was hit by a pitch before both runners advanced on a sacrifice. The Jaspers' top hitter, Matt Rizzotti, then reached on an error that scored Nieto for a 1-0 lead while leaving runners at the corners.
With two outs, Dom Lombardi hit a slow roller back to the mound, but Dons' pitcher Jason Dufloth threw wildly to first base, allowing Lombardi to reach on the error. Two runs scored on the play to give the Jaspers a 3-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
San Francisco (39-23) came back with a run in the bottom of the frame as Santerre was called for a balk with the bases loaded and two outs. But the crafty left-hander got out of the jam by getting Chris Bacigalupi to strike out swinging.
Manhattan continued to give Santerre support with two more runs in the second to push the lead to four runs. With two on, Derba singled through the left side to drive in a pair of runs before Dufloth was pulled with two outs. Dufloth took the loss for the Dons as he went 1.2 innings while allowing five runs -- one earned -- on just two hits to drop to 2-2 on the year.
After San Francisco plated another run in the bottom of the frame to cut the lead to 5-2, Manhattan pushed across its final run in the top of the third when John Fitzpatrick led off the frame with a shot over the left field fence. The line drive homer was Fitzpatrick's team-leading and school-record 18th round tripper of the season. The home run also gave Fitzpatrick his 215th career hit, tying the Manhattan school record held by Gary Diaz (2002-05).
The insurance run came in handy for the Jaspers as USF's Patrick McGuigan shut down the Manhattan offense the rest of the way. The West Coast Conference Co-Pitcher of the year, McGuigan allowed just one hit over the final 7.0 innings in relief to end the game.
With the defense starting to take hold and McGuigan cruising on the mound, the Dons got back into the game behind Scott Cousins' solo home run in the third inning and a Bacigalupi RBI single up the middle in the sixth.
Both teams went scoreless in the seventh and eighth before USF made the game interesting with a final rally in the bottom of the ninth.
Jasper reliever Matt Nevins, who came on for Santerre in the eighth, opened the frame by allowing a leadoff single to Lucas DeLong, who advanced to second on a passed ball. Andrew Smith then put runners on the corners with a single to right before Nevins preserved the win by getting Cousins and Stefan Gartrell to pop out to end the game.