Down 3-0 in the top of the seventh, the Bulls pushed a across their first run of the afternoon and would cut the lead to 3-1. Junior Eric Sim greeted Florida reliever Jeff Barfield into the game by roping a double down the left field line then true freshman Jimmy Falla collected his second of three hits on the day by smashing a double off the wall in left. Making his first start in USF uniform, the Jesuit product went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in.
After relievers Matt Stull and Teddy Kaufman got the Bulls out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh, USF went to work offensively in the eighth.
The Bulls offense, which had been dormant for most of the day and the series, exploded for five runs in their half of the eight to create a three run cushion with six outs remaining.
In the top of the eighth, Carlin would start the inning off with a bunt attempt that popped over the pitchers head leaving the shortstop without a play. Following a walk to Sam Mende, Stephen Hunt, who head coach Lelo Prado moved into the clean-up spot today sliced a double down left field line to score Carlin.
Up next was third baseman Ryan Koscso who sent a high chopper, which went about 25 feet in the air, to second base for an infield single driving in Mende from third to tie the game at three. Next was Sim who roped a single, his second of three hits on the afternoon, scoring Hunt and giving the Bulls their first lead of the game and the season.
That would be just the beginning for the Bulls, who picked a great time to get the offense rolling.
With runners on first and second with still no one out, Prado went to his bench and called on Sean Buckley to deliver a big pinch hit and he did. For the second time in as many days, Buckley doubled as pinch hitter and gave the Bulls a 5-3 lead. And the Bulls weren’t done.
It would the freshman, Jimmy Falla coming up in a pressure situation and delivering. Falla sent a fly ball deep to right to score Koscso and extend the Bulls lead to 6-3.
By taking the lead it took starter Andrew Barbosa out of the decision. Making his first start as a Bull, Barbosa was solid going six innings, giving up three runs, all in the first inning, striking out four and walking just one. At one point, the junior from Riverview HS retired 12 straight Gators and 13 of the last 14 batters he face.
Kaufman, after recording the final out of the seventh, worked a perfect eighth to hold the 6-3 lead. For the second consecutive day, junior Ryan Lockwood robbed Austin Maddox of a home run as the senior scaled wall in left center and robbed the freshman of the four base dinger.
USF went down in order in the top of the ninth and headed to the ninth with a three run cushion.
Kaufman returned for the ninth. After getting the lead-off man to pop out. He walked the next batter which was followed by a single through the left side bringing the tying run to the plate. Closer Kevin Quackenbush would relieve Kaufman and would then strike out the next batter bring up den Dekker. Down to their final out den Dekker hit a chopper through left side which scored two and cut the lead to 6-5.
After walking Adams to load the bases, Preston Tucker bounced an 0-2 pitch to Mende. The shortstop couldn’t field the ball cleanly and Tucker beat his throw allowing the tying run to score.
With the loss USF falls to 0-3 on the season.
Up next for the Bulls, USF will return to Bay area and prep for the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge where they will take on No. 22 Ohio State on Feb. 26 at Al Lang Stadium, Illinois on Feb. 27 at Bright House Field and then wrap up the challenge against Michigan on Feb. 28 at the Naimoli Complex.
-With the loss, USF head coach Lelo Prado remains at 697 career wins. For his career, Prado is 697-506 in 21 years of coaching. Prado is also one victory shy of his hundredth USF victory. He is now 99-75 in four seasons as skipper of the Bulls.
- As a program, USF baseball is 16 victories shy of 1,300 all-time victories in its 46 year history.
- Shortstop Sam Mende went 0 for 4 on the day and in doing so had his 10 ten games dating back to last year.
-Junior Stephen Hunt went 2 for 5. It was his second multi-hit game of the season.
-Junior EricSim and freshmen Jimmy Falla and Chad Taylor all picked up their first career hits.
-Falla made his first career start and in doing so went 3 for 4 with two runs batted in. Redshirt Freshman Alex Mendez made his first career start at the DH.