USF baseball had to rally to keep their win streak alive Tuesday night. After falling behind 3-2 in the seventh inning, the Bulls struck for four runs, including a three-run homer from 3B David Villar, to help defeat North Florida 7-3 and run their winning streak to 19 straight.
“The turning point for us was two big, two-strike at-bat from [Joe] Genord and then [Duke] Stunkel with the head-first slide at first,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “I thought that shows what we’re all about. They battled with two strikes, had the two hits and hustled. And that led to the three-run home run.”
Villar was named to the AAC Weekly Honor Roll for his amazing weekend vs Harvard where he hit three home runs, all with at least one man on base, and 12 RBI. (He would have been Player of the Week if someone hadn’t hit .814 with six homers.) Villar had only one hit tonight, but it was the biggest hit of the game.
“You see a developing hitter right now. He’s using the whole field to hit in and [he’s] a guy that knows what to look for, and what to do with it when he does get it,” Kingston said.
2B Coco Montes drew a leadoff walk from UNF reliever Eddie Miller to start the Bulls rally in the 7th. Miller struck out DH Luke Borders before giving way to sidearm pitcher Austin Howze to face Genord.
Genord singled to left to put men on the corners with one out. Stunkel busted down the line on a grounder and beat the throw to first with a head-first slide. (We must, however, acknowledge that he’s earned a trip to the #lavapit for that.) Montes scored on the play to tie things up at 3-3.
Then came Villar’s heroics.
“I know with a sidearmer, you have to stick with the ball and try to hit it the other way, you cant try to pull off on them,” Villar said. “I was just trying to stick to my approach, I wasn’t trying to do too much and the kid left me a fastball outside. I just felt good to swing at it and it went out of the park.”
Borders finished off the scoring in the 8th inning with an RBI single.
Freshman RHP D.J. Roberts wasn’t at his best tonight, but battled through five innings before giving way to the bullpen. He gave up eight hits, two runs, a walk and five strikeouts. Relievers Michael Farley and Joe Cavallaro weren’t sharp tonight, but escaped with only one run allowed in their three innings of work.
USF can tie the school record for consecutive wins tonight, but the streak faces its toughest test as they travel to Fort Myers to take on 15th-ranked Florida Gulf Coast. RHP Peter Strzelecki (1-0, 1.15 ERA) gets the ball with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m.