A three-run homer by Chris Chatfield erased one deficit, and a two-run rally in the eighth inning overcame another as the USF baseball team beat the Tulane Green Wave 7-6 in the American conference tournament opener Tuesday.
David Villar also homered for the Bulls (41-15).
“It was two really good teams that were taking advantage of the conditions. The wind was blowing really hard out today. You saw a lot of home runs today from both teams and I just think in the end we got one more big hit,” said USF head coach Mark Kingston.
“Their best hitter came to the plate late with a chance to take the lead again (in the ninth) and Joe (Cavallaro) made a pitch.”
With Tulane (27-30) already leading 3-0, the teams exchanged three-run homers in the fourth and fifth innings. After Villar walked and Andres Leal singled to begin the USF fourth, Chris Chatfield crushed a pitch to dead center to tie the game at three.
The Bulls quickly fell behind again after Tulane’s Jarret DeHart returned the favor with a three-run shot of his own in the fifth inning off Mark Savarese, making it 6-3.
But as this squad has done so often this year, the Bulls chipped away and put together another late-inning rally.
Villar drove in runs in the fifth and sixth innings with a solo homer and RBI single, cutting the deficit to 6-5. After both teams were held scoreless in the seventh, the bottom of the eighth proved to be the difference for USF.
Kevin Merrell led off with an infield single to the pitcher. Duke Stunkel, Jr. doubled down the left field line to score Merrell and tie the game.
Three batters later, USF would get their first lead when Joe Genord scorched a ball through the legs and glove of Tulane third baseman Hunter Hope. An E5 in the score book, but a 7-6 Bulls lead on the scoreboard. The victory marked the 17th time the Bulls have come back to win when trailing after six innings.
“We’ve done it enough this year to know that if we stayed with it and we didn’t panic that it could happen again today. We have had so many come-from-behind wins this year we knew if stuck with it and kept this guy up in the zone we might be able to get the ball in this wind, and I think that was key today,” Kingston added after the game.
With the win, USF advances in the winners bracket and will face the winner of Tuesday night’s game between #8 seed East Carolina and #1 seed C. The Bulls are currently scheduled to play again Thursday night at 7:00 p.m... weather permitting. Stay tuned, as some serious rain in the forecast could switch things around in Clearwater.