Joe Genord led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a home run to give the USF Bulls (15-1) a 6-5 win over Valparaiso Sunday afternoon at the USF Baseball Stadium.
Genord hit a 2-2 pitch from Easton Rhodehouse over the center-field fence to give USF their 14th straight win. The streak is one short of the school record for consecutive wins, set in 1986 when arguably USF’s best baseball team ever won 15 straight.
The home run made a winner out of closer Andrew Perez, who picked off an inherited runner to end the 8th inning and then threw a perfect ninth. Starter Peter Strzelecki pitched three innings, allowing three hits, two runs (one earned) and striking out four.
The Bulls turned around an early deficit with a four-run fourth inning. With two out, Garrett Zech stole second. Kevin Merrell brought him in with a base hit to tie the game. Then Merrell stole second and scored on a Coco Montes single. Montes advanced to second on the throw home, but it didn’t matter as Luke Borders followed with a two-run homer to give USF a 5-2 lead.
The Crusaders (6-8) chipped away with two runs in the fifth. Nate Palace hit an RBI single and Jayden Eggimann drew a bases-loaded walk. They eventually tied the game in the eighth inning off D.J. Roberts, when James Stea singled to bring home pinch hitter Giovanni Gardella. The Bulls had two runners on in the bottom of the inning, but Montes lined out and Borders flew out to center to end the threat.
USF is on spring break, so there are no midweek games this week. Their next series begins Friday night against Harvard at the USF Baseball Stadium. It’s a four-game series, with a doubleheader Saturday and single games Friday night and Sunday afternoon.