One of the most bizarre plays in USF history gave Memphis a go-ahead run in the sixth inning, as the Bulls fell 4-1 to the Memphis Tigers on Friday afternoon at Bright House Field in Clearwater.
The Bulls (33-24-1, RPI 27) second loss in the double-elimination tournament ends their regular season, and they'll have to wait until noon on Monday and the NCAA Selection Show to see if they'll return on The Road to Omaha for the first time in 13 years.
USF senior Casey Mulholland gave the Bulls six solid innings as the starter, but conceded two runs in his final frame. The first was a leadoff solo home run to Memphis (37-20, RPI 69) senior Tucker Tubbs, and the second came home via one of the most bizarre plays you'll ever see:
Officially, that's a 6-5-4-6 fielders choice and a run scored by the original batter Brandon Montgomery. The Bulls thought they had called timeout, but it simply wasn't granted.
"Apparently our players thought there was timeout," USF head coach Mark Kingston said after the game, returning to the dugout for the first time following his five-game suspension for an incident with umpire Chris Ward after the last game of the Tulane series. "The umpires did not… the umpires have the final say."
USF opened their account in the third inning behind back-to-back singles from Kevin Merrell & Luke Maglich. Levi Borders sacrifice fly gave the Bulls the early lead. but it was a spate of missed opportunities that cost the Bulls more NCAA security: 10 runners were left on base, including five in scoring position.
* This is the 10th year of the Big East or AAC conference tournament being played at Bright House Field in Clearwater. USF's overall record is 15-18 with one year failing to qualify (2011) and zero championships. The Bulls have gone 1-2 in each of the last three seasons.
* Freshman Kevin Merrell finishes the regular season at .348, the second-highest of the "BBCOR Bat" era that began in 2011, behind teammate Kyle Teaf (.354 in 2014, .295 in 2015).
* The Bulls stand at 8-14 against the RPI Top 50 as of this writing, with UConn sitting at #50 presently as they take on Tulane. USF wouldn't mind their 2-1 record against the Huskies counting towards that total.
* Though a recruiting class ranked in the top 10 is heading to Fowler Avenue next season, USF loses a big chunk of their performance from 2015. Four seniors (Teaf, Buddy Putnam, Zac Gilcrease, and Austin Lueck) started todays game, with two draft-eligible juniors (Luke Maglich, Levi Borders) possibilities not to return. Junior starting pitcher Jimmy Herget is also likely to be drafted, and today's starter Casey Mulholland is also a senior.