USF Baseball hosted Liberty for the first of three games on a beautiful, brisk evening at the USF Baseball Complex, and the weather didn’t slow down the starting pitching efforts on either side. Both squads totaled 25 K’s with the starters combining for 15, including seven by junior righty Collin Sullivan.
The Bulls (6-5) opened the scoring when freshman Nick Gonzalez worked a two out walk in the second and Jordan Santos drove him in with a stand-up double. USF added to its lead in the third when Austin Bodrato smacked a double that drove in Kyle Phillips from second and it seemed like the Bulls would run away with the opener.
In the top half of the sixth however, the Flames made it interesting.
With runners on first and second, Sullivan was pulled for Logan Lyle who immediately walked the bases loaded on four pitches. Head coach Billy Mohl pulled him for Richie Cruz who gave up a sacrifice fly to center and a two-run single to relinquish the lead. Following another walk to load the bases, Cruz escaped the jam with a strikeout.
In the home half of the sixth, Bodrato decided to take matters into his own hands by crushing a solo homer to right field to tie the game at four. However, the Flames retaliated with their own two-out solo shot to retake the lead after a groundout and strikeout.
But that wasn’t all.
After Dylan Burns allowed a walk and hit by pitch to load the bags, Connor Eason surrendered a single that found its way past Phillips in center to score three more for the Flames.
The Bulls chipped away at the lead in the bottom of the eighth when catcher Tyler Dietrich smacked a two-out double down the left field line to score Bodrato from first.
Matt Marini struck out a pair in the ninth, but the Bulls struck out all three times in the bottom half to end it.
USF will look to even the series on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.