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Nine-Run Eighth Inning Gives Bulls Season Opening Win

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The Bulls started the 2017 campaign with some late-game heroics.

Nathan Bond/The Daily Stampede

USF baseball looked all but beat as they entered the bottom half of the eighth inning in their season-opening matchup against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Starting pitcher Nick Gallagher had retired 14 straight hitters, but suddenly the floodgates opened. At the end of the inning, the Bulls had scored nine times and went on to win 9-4.

“I think we stayed with it [going into the eighth inning],” head coach Mark Kingston said. “The big thing I thought about going into that inning was that guy had really good stuff but we only had four or five strikeouts up to that point. That is one of the things that we have made progress on.”

Gallagher cruised through most of the game with pinpoint control and a good slider that kept Bulls hitters off balance. After David Villar walked to start the 8th inning, Iowa head coach Rick Heller pulled went to RHP Zach Daniels and it all fell apart. Daniels gave up four runs on three hits and two walks, punctuated by a two-run triple by senior DH Luke Borders. Borders tried for an inside-the-park home run but was tagged out at home.

Senior RHP Josh Martching replaced Daniels and fared no better, allowing four more runs. Sophomore Cameron Montgomery gave the Bulls the lead for good with a two-run double to right to give the Bulls a 5-4 lead.

“I think summer ball helped a lot. I’m a lot more confident this year and I feel like a different player to be honest,” Montgomery said.

Six of the nine Bulls runs in the inning came with two outs.

USF senior RHP Phoenix Sanders pitched five innings, giving up two runs while striking out eight on 90 pitches.

“[Sanders] was great. What was great to see is that he matched up with a Friday night starter, and last year maybe that’s a game we would’ve lost. But I thought Phoenix was great. He kept them off balance enough and kept us in the game,” Kingston said.

Junior Duke Stunkel, Jr. made his debut in center field and made an incredible diving catch in the 7th inning. He also went 1-for-3 with a walk at the plate.

The Bulls will continue their three-game series at noon with LHP Shane McClanahan getting the start. Kingston said the freshman will be on a pitch count, as will Peter Strzelecki and Ryan Valdes as they all return from Tommy John surgery.

Notables:

  • RHP’s Joe Cavallaro (2 IP, 3 K’s Friday) and Michael Farley will be “co-setup men” while LHP Andrew Perez will be the closer.
  • Frehsman RHP D.J. Roberts made his collegiate debut. He pitched the 8th inning, gave up two walks, a hit, and a run, but managed to get out of his own jam with a double-play ball.