It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the USF baseball team resembles the Giants in the way they’re built: strong pitching and an often-struggling offense.
The teams will have something else in common when the Dons (13-14) borrow the Giants’ ballpark for a game against West Coast Conference rival San Diego (21-6) on Saturday. The game marks the seventh annual Dante Benedetti Baseball Classic, a tradition USF coach Nino Giarratano said he is proud of.
“For 99 percent of the college players, that’s their touch with the big leagues,” he said. “I kind of like doing that. That really was my dream all along to bring that game [to AT&T Park] so that players could get as close as possible to the top of where they want to go in their profession.”
His players have certainly been appreciative of the opportunity.
“It’s awesome,” outfielder Ted LeMasters said. “We get to watch all the Giants games at home every night and you get to see all these great players come through, and for us to be able to play the game that we love on the same ball field as them, it’s pretty exciting.”
Giarratano said the game has been a good jumping off point for the team in the past.
“In six years we’ve played that game, we really haven’t hit our stride until we got to that game,” he said. “It’s always been a destination for us. We play that game and then we move on to our next adventure of hopefully getting into a regional and playing in postseason play.”
The three-game series against San Diego, which will include games at Benedetti Diamond on Friday and Sunday, also stands as an early test against the favorites to win the WCC, though Giarratano was quick to point out that the 2011 trophy still sits in USF’s hands, and will remain there until someone else takes it.
The game, which starts at 10 a.m., will be followed by the Bruce-Mahoney high school game between rivals Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Ignatius at about 1:30 p.m. Advance tickets are sold out, but tickets can still be purchased at the event.
WHEN: Saturday, 10 a.m.
WHERE: AT&T Park
NOTE: Following the USF-San Diego game, the Bruce-Mahoney game between Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Ignatius will be played at approximately 1:30 p.m.