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USF Opens AAC Tournament With Win Over ECU

Head coach Mark Kingston said he'd get "creative" with pitching in the tournament and he didn't disappoint.

Brandon Lawson
Brandon Lawson

Seventh-seeded USF Baseball opened their do-or-die American Conference tournament with an upset of the #2 ECU Pirates 4-2 on Wednesday at Bright House Field in Clearwater.

With the win, the Bulls will face the winner of Memphis-UConn at 7 p.m. tomorrow evening.

USF scored two in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Duke Stunkel Jr, followed by an RBI single by second baseman Kevin Merrell to take a 2-0 lead.

Brandon Lawson got the start for the Bulls and was nearly flawless all day with only one hiccup. In the bottom half of the 7th, a two-out double by ECU DH Kirk Morgan to left field looked routine enough for Bulls OF Cameron Montgomery, but he took a poor route to the ball fighting the high Clearwater sky, and as he fell to the ground the ball squirted out of his glove allowing two Pirate runs to tie it.

Lawson's final line was: 7IP, 7H, 2ER, 3BB and 8K's, and the no decision.

In the eighth Kingston got "creative" and brought in Joe Cavallaro, the typical Sunday starter to get three outs and keep the Bulls in the game.

ECU's closer Joe Ingle came on in relief of Matt Bridges in the ninth and promptly imploded. After Bridges walked Stunkel, a sac bunt by Coco Montes moved the runner over to second. Ingle entered and then walked Merrell, Garrett Zech and Luke Maglich back-to-back-to-back, the last of which forced in the go ahead run for the Bulls. A Luke Borders pop out to third kept the bases loaded, but David Villar got the second RBI walk of the inning to score the fourth and final run for USF.

Ingle gave up four walks in 1/3 of an inning, and before being pulled was berated by head coach Cliff Godwin in the middle of the mound.

Normal Friday night starter Phoenix Sanders closed the game in the ninth without conceding a run for his first career save.

Typical closer Tommy Eveld wasn't available for the Bulls because he will be making his first start of the year (third of career) vs the winner of UConn vs. Memphis.

The game will be at 7 p.m.