David Villar’s two-run single in the ninth inning lifted the USF Bulls (28-5) to an 8-6 win over the Stetson Hatters Tuesday night at Melching Field in DeLand. USF, ranked #25 in this week’s NCBWA poll, trailed 6-2 after six innings, but rallied to victory for the fourth straight game.
The ninth inning began with the Bulls trailing 6-5, after USF had scored one in the seventh and two in the eighth. Luke Borders led off with a base hit, followed by another hit by Joe Genord. Duke Stunkel attempted to bunt the runners over so a base hit would give USF the lead. His sacrifice wasn’t needed, though, because Stetson pitcher Joey Gonzalez threw the ball into right field. Ryan Valdes (who had pinch run for Genord) scored to tie the game at 6. Then came Villar’s go-ahead hit.
The rally made Andrew Perez the winning pitcher after he threw a perfect 8th and 9th inning. Perez struck out three and mowed down his six batters in only 22 pitches.
Starter D.J. Roberts struggled through 3 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and four earned runs. He gave up three runs in the first inning on a bases-loaded walk and a two-run single by Stetson’s Kirk Sidwell. Then he gave up another run in the fourth and left a bit of a mess behind for Noah Yager, who got himself into a little more trouble before striking out Mike Spooner with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Stetson (15-20) got another run off Yager in the fifth and an unearned run in the sixth off Michael Farley to stretch their lead to 6-2. The Bulls answered with a Kevin Merrell RBI single in the seventh, and a two-run, ground-rule double by Cameron Montgomery in the eighth to set up the heroics in their last at-bat.
The Bulls resume conference play this weekend against Cincinnati. This is a Thursday-Friday-Saturday series because of Easter weekend. First pitch Thursday night is at 6:30.