Behind a gutty performance from their ace Jimmy Herget, and an unforgettable day at the plate for the nation's leader in consecutive starts Kyle Teaf, the USF Bulls opened their first NCAA Regional in 13 years with a 5-3 win over the FAU Owls on Friday afternoon at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville.
Herget gutted out 112 pitches using multiple arm angles, conceding nine hits but just three runs (two earned) across seven innings. He improved as his outing continued, conceding only a walk over his last three innings of work that was erased as a 6-4-3 double play on his final pitch of the afternoon.
"Jimmy did a great job obviously," Mark Kingston said of his junior starting right hander. "Jimmy's a competitor. Jimmy finds a way.
"I thought about the third or fourth inning there his breaking ball started to get sharper. Once it did, then there were a lot of zeros up on the board."
Senior shortstop Kyle Teaf shined in his NCAA postseason debut, going 4-5 with two triples, two runs scored, and two RBI. The Bulls got on the board in the first via a game-opening triple from Teaf, and an RBI single from freshman Kevin Merrell staked Herget to a 1-0 lead. The Bulls added two more in the second inning on Teaf's bases loaded single that plated Zac Gilcrease and Andres Leal, and his one-out triple in the fourth became a run via a Merrelll double.
"I just stuck to the approach we've had all year, and was fortunate enough to have a good day at the plate," Teaf said. "I was fortunate to put some good swings on some balls."
In the bottom of the fourth, a fantastic relay from Austin Lueck to Teaf to catcher Levi Borders kept the Bulls lead intact.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"> now that's how you preserve a lead! <a href="http://t.co/cQGW3mRjHD">pic.twitter.com/cQGW3mRjHD</a></p>— USF Athletics (@USFAthletics) <a href="https://twitter.com/USFAthletics/status/604361431782412288">May 29, 2015</a></blockquote>
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"I thought it was a very well played game on both sides," said Mark Kingston "I think USF is very proud to be back in the tournament, and to come out and play well like we did today.
"We're playing for all the people that have been Bulls, that are Bulls, and that will be Bulls in the future."
The Bulls take on the winner of tonight's game between the #1 seed Florida Gators & the #4 Florida A&M Rattlers at 7 p.m. tomorrow. The winner of tomorrow night's game advances to the final in the double-elimination regional, and would need to be beaten twice on Sunday and Monday by the losers bracket survivor.