TAMPA, MARCH. 4, 2017 – Trailing, 3-1, in the bottom of the third inning, the University of South Florida baseball team scored 11 unanswered runs including eight in the fifth to secure a series win and an eighth-straight victory with Saturday’s 12-3 triumph over Toledo.
The Rockets (1-9) nearly matched game one’s run production with two in the top half of the first despite not having a hit. The first two batters were hit by pitches, two passed balls and a soft ground out later the Bulls (9-1) faced an early deficit.
The hosts tallied their first score in the bottom of the second, but Toledo answered in the third to retake a two-run advantage. The bottom of the third was when the game began to swing in USF’s favor. Junior Duke Stunkel Jr. (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) doubled down the right field line to lead off. Sophomore David Villar (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) singled up the middle to score Stunkel. Two batters later, sophomore Joe Genord (Lake Worth, Fla.) stepped in with a man on first looking to shake off recent struggles. He crushed a ball into the gap in right center, slid head first into third, but the ball hit his body and ricocheted to the wall, allowing him to score and make it 4-3.
The Bulls threatened in the fourth, putting three on with one gone, but could not drive in a run. USF atoned for the failed opportunity in the fifth, quickly loading the bases with one out, as senior Luke Borders (Winter Haven, Fla.) started the inning with a walk. The bases would be juiced a total three times in the frame and the Bulls would bat around, putting up eight runs to take a commanding 12-3 lead. The Rockets got just three base runners over the final four innings.
· Stunkel Jr. finished 3-for-4 with a run and a RBI in his first game of the year batting second in the order.
· Borders went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a career-high four runs. .
· Entering the game with a sub .100 batting average, Genord went 2-for-2 with two runs, a personal-best three RBI and two walks.
· The Bulls’ top two orders, junior Kevin Merrell (Odessa, Fla.) and Coco Montes (Miami) went a combined 2-for-9, though they each scored a run.
· Redshirt-freshman Shane McClanahan (Cape Coral, Fla.) logged 5.0 innings, allowing three hits and his first runs of the game, though one was unearned. He fanned five in the win.
· Freshmen relievers Collin Sullivan (Randolph, Mass.) and Carson Ragsdale (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) each tossed 2.0 scoreless innings and each struck out three.
· The Bulls are now 4-1 against the Rockets all-time.
· The eight-game win streak is the longest since 2015 when the team won nine-straight.
· The Bulls have now scored eight runs or more in two innings this season, having put up nine in the eighth against Iowa in the season opener on Feb. 17.
· The Bulls have yet to allow more than four runs to any team this season. Conversely, they have scored double-digit runs in two of the last three games. USF tallied double-digit runs just twice all of last season.
The University of South Florida baseball team is one of the fastest rising programs in the country. Under the guidance of head coach Mark Kingston, the Bulls reached the NCAA Regionals in 2015 for the first time in 13 years and USF followed that success with a consensus Top 10 recruiting class. Five players from that recruiting class were everyday starters in 2016 including outfielder Chris Chatfield (Riverview, Fla.), who led the team in home runs, and catcher Joe Genord (Lake Worth, Fla.), who was named the 2016 PGCBL Player of the Year. The Bulls won series from two ranked teams in 2016 (No. 21 East Carolina, No. 25 Michigan State, began the 2017 season with a series win over Iowa and earned just it’s second win over a top-five team with a 4-2 victory against No. 3 Florida State on Feb. 21.
The USF Baseball program has won five conference titles and the Bulls have made 11 NCAA appearances. Follow the baseball team on social media (Twitter | Facebook | Instagram), visit GoUSFBulls.com for the most up-to-date information, and purchase tickets for upcoming games at USFBullsTix.com. For tickets, contact the USF Ticket Office at 1-800-Go-Bulls or by going online to USFBullsTix.com.