Pitcher's Duel Saturday
After a disastrous Friday night, USF Baseball came away with a massive series win against #21 ECU in Greenville over the weekend.
On Saturday Bulls starter Brandon Lawson pitched an absolute gem, going eight innings while only allowing one run on three hits and three walks. He threw 122 pitches, 70 for strikes as the Pirates had no answer for the junior from Brooksville.
ECU starter Jimmy Boyd was just as effective for most of the game, retiring ten in a row at one point. But the Bulls got to Boyd in the sixth when second baseman Kevin Merrell singled to right and outfielder Garrett Zech followed with a single to center past a diving Garrett Brooks. Merrell hustled from first to score the games opening run, barely beating the throw home.
ECU answered in the bottom of the seventh when shortstop Turner Brown lead off with a blast to knot things at one.
But The Bulls answered in the ninth, and did so in dramatic fashion. Boyd recorded one out then hit Zech and outfielder Luke Maglich to put two men on. Reliever Joe Ingle came on and was greeted by DH Luke Borders, who sent a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall to give the Bulls a 4-1 lead.
(sorry for the incredibly large pic of Mike Lefko's head, but it's a great call)
Two batters later, outfielder Duke Stunkel Jr. doubled and scored on a Joe Genord single to give the Bulls more insurance and a 5-1 cushion for closer Tommy Eveld. In a non-save situation, Eveld stranded a pair of runners for the win.
Super Series Win On Sunday
A bases loaded walk by Zech scored the first run of the game and gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead in the top half of the second inning on Sunday. But Bulls starter Joe Cavallaro spotted the Pirates five runs in the bottom half of the frame.
After the second Cavallaro settled down and allowed the offense to claw its way back into the game. Genord hit a two-run HR in the third to cut the deficit to 5-3. Pirates starter Jacob Wolfe retired the first two hitters of the fifth, then hit Genord with a pitch and walked Coco Montes with a fielding error sandwiched between them to load the bases. Merrell came up big and hit a two-run double to right to tie the score at five and chase Wolfe from the game.
In the sixth DH Luke Borders broke the tie and hit a HR to right-center. Borders had a tremendous weekend going 7-for-14, with three home runs, seven RBI's and a stolen base, that will put him in position for AAC Player of The Week.
The Bulls got seven innings from Cavallaro, retiring 12 of the last 13 batters he faced (H/T gousfbulls.com). Eveld came on in the eighth to get the two-inning save, his ninth of the season.
The best way to make sure your bullpen doesn't blow the game is to get great performances by the starters and use your best reliever. After blowing the 7-2 lead Friday, the Bulls responded really well and showed that they can play with the top of the conference.
USF (23-28, 8-13) hosts Jacksonville on Tuesday before finishing the regular season vs UConn in Tampa. Right now they're in a three-way tie at the bottom of the eight-team league with C. Florida and Memphis at 8-13. It would probably favor them to be the #6 or #7 seed in the conference tournament, as they'd avoid Tulane side of the double-elimination bracket until the Championship Game.