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Long Ball Lifts USF Baseball To War On I-4 Series Victory

A pair of home runs and shutdown pitching was all the Bulls needed in the Sunday rubber match.

Fueled by back-to-back third inning homers and a lights-out bullpen performance, the USF Bulls baseball team rallied for 4-2 win over C. on Sunday afternoon at the USF Baseball Stadium to win their only series of the season against those bitter rivals from the east.

The Knights (27-14, 7-8 AAC) opened the scoring in the top of the second after a couple of one-out singles were followed by a two-out, two-run double on a full count to push the C. lead to 2-0.

Sophomore starter Collin Sullivan went five innings and wiggled out of a few jams, allowing just the two runs, walking two and striking out seven on 93 pitches.

“Sullivan had one inning where he struggled but he made some adjustments and was really good for five innings,” head coach Billy Mohl said. “(Noah) Yager pounded the zone and had quite a few punch outs, and then we brought in (Alec) Wisely in to finish it off. All three of them were outstanding today.”

Trailing 2-0 entering the home half of the third, catcher Tyler Dietrich reached base via a Knights error before senior Duke Stunkel Jr. unloaded on a blast to right-center field for his first homer of the season and tie the game 2-2.

“We remember what happened in the conference tournament against UCF and at their place to close the season last year,” Stunkel Jr. said. “It felt great to take the series and in the third inning I just wanted to put the team in a good position down by two. That inning changed the game for us.”

The game wouldn’t stay tied for long as junior third baseman David Villar gave the Bulls a 3-2 lead in the next at-bat with a shot over the wall in left-center. It was the second homer in as many days for Villar and his ninth of the season. He added a double in the seventh and finished the game 2-for-3.

“Duke led us off and gave us that spark that we needed and I was just trying to keep the inning alive,” Villar said. “We’re confident in our ability to bounce back, knowing that if we lose Friday, we always have a chance to win Saturday and Sunday.”

The Bulls (26-14, 9-6 AAC) added another run in the fifth on a Knights error, but wouldn’t need anything else as sophomore lefty Noah Yager silenced the C. bats in going three innings and allowing just one hit with five strikeouts.

After throwing just 12 pitches in the win on Saturday night, USF turned to junior righty Alec Wisely to close it out in the ninth and he set the Knights down in order to secure the series victory.

“It’s huge. Every series from here on out is huge,” Mohl added. “We are going to play one at a time and try to win as many as we can down the stretch.”

USF will welcome in Bethune-Cookman on Tuesday night before opening up final home series of the season versus Memphis. The Bulls are on the road the entire month of May.

We leave you with this gem.