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Baseball Wins Series Over UCF

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The Bulls split Saturday and Sunday vs UCF after winning on Friday to earn a series win and creep closer to .500

Your USF Bulls beat UCF Saturday night in walk-off fashion as senior outfielder Luke Maglich doubled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Maglich did his best Bugs Bunny impersonation as he was all over the field making plays.

After a Kevin Merrell single in the first, Maglich hit a two-run homer to open the scoring high off the face of the hitting facility in DEEP right field. The Bulls would tack on two more runs in the second to push their lead to 4-0 before UCF scored two runs in both the third and fourth inning to tie it. It would stay that way until the walk-off but not without some excitement.

Junior right-hander Brandon Lawson pitched seven solid innings and conceding four runs (three earned). He threw 71 of his 107 pitches for strikes and tallied eight strikeouts against just one walk.

Things got interesting in the eighth. Bulls reliever Brad Labozetta allowed a single and walked two Knights while only recording one out, leaving the bases loaded for Andrew Perez to try to get out of the jam. Perez got the first batter he faced to hit a soft low-liner to right field where Bugs Bunny Magilch raced in and made a diving catch to record the second out, then fired it to first for a 9-3 the double play to end the inning.

"I think (that's) the best play of the year," Bulls head coach Mark Kingston said. "Maybe the best play I've seen in the past five years. Bases loaded and a diving play and more importantly to have the presence of mind to turn that into a double play."

Kingston was impressed that Maglich knew he could throw to first to get the double play and that Duke Stunkel was there to cover the bag to finish it off.

"At first I hesitated a little bit," Maglich said. "I was gonna let it land in front but then I was like nah, I might as well just risk it. Either we lose the game there or keep it a tie ball game and try to win it in the eighth or ninth inning."

In the ninth Merrell hit a one-out single, then stole second for his third swiped bag of the game and 16th of the season without being caught. The Knights trying to set up the double play walked Stunkel to put men on first and second, but Maglich made them pay for it. He hit a double to the fence, his second of the game, over the left fielders' head which plated Merrell for the win.

"It was a big win for us," Maglich said. "We faced a lot of adversity and we were able to hang in there and made sure we made the plays when we needed to and then we found a way to get on in the ninth and from there it was kinda history."

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Sunday was completely different for the Bulls. They fell 9-2, starter Joe Cavallaro lasted only 2.2 innings, giving up six runs(five earned). Michael Clarkson relieved Cavallaro and pitched 3.1 innings while only surrendering one run. Reliever Tommy Eveld came on and gave up two runs in two innings but also struck out five.

The Bulls committed two errors Sunday and had six total in the three game series.

"They just did everything better than us today," manager Mark Kingston said. "They pitched better, hit better, ran all over us on the bases and played better defense than us. We won the series so we can take solace in that. But we want to get to the point where we aren't satisfied with winning series."

The lone bright spots on offense were Kevin Merrell who got a hit and stole his 16th base of the year and scored a run, Duke Stunkel who collected two hits and an RBI and Luke Borders who also had two hits and an RBI.

The Bulls (21-23, 6-9) are off until Friday when they welcome #20 Tulane for a weekend series. They enter this weekend's series with Tulane in a three-way tie for sixth in the American Conference at 6-9, while 21-23 overall this season.