By KY-SHON HEPBURN
Special to GoUSFBulls.com
TAMPA - The Bulls have their first home win of the season.
Joey Lovecchio got his first win to lead USF to an 8-5 victory over Bethune-Cookman on Friday night in the first of a three-game series.
Alex Mendez hit a leadoff single to right field to get things started for the Bulls in the bottom of the first inning. He moved into scoring position with his second stolen base of the season then moved to third base on an error by the Wildcats catcher. Daniel Rockhold followed with a walk and James Ramsay hit an RBI sacrifice fly to bring home Mendez and give the Bulls a 1-0 lead.
Jimmy Falla kept things rolling for the Bulls in the second inning with a solo-shot to left field.
"It felt really good," said Falla. "I wanted to be aggressive early in the game."
The Wildcats got on the board in the top of the third inning with a solo home run from Carlos Delgado to make the score 2-1.
Bethune-Cookman's David Lee hit a home run to right field to tie the game at 2. Lovecchio pitched into a double play with bases loaded, and the Bulls were able to escape the fourth inning allowing only one run to score.
Falla reached on an error to get things started for the Bulls in the bottom of the fifth inning. Luis Llerena hit a single, and Mendez followed with an in-field single to load the bases. Rockhold hit a RBI sac fly, Ramsay hit a RBI single and the Wildcats catcher committed an error to allow another run to score. Ramsay stole third base and Todd Brazeal followed with a RBI sac fly to give the Bulls a 6-2 lead.
"We had a great offensive approach, and we scored a lot of runs," said head coach Lelo Prado.
Llerena was picked by the coaches to honor Lee Roy Selmon by wearing the No. 63 jersey. Each player will be given an opportunity to honor Selmon this season by wearing his old number.
Andrew Loynaz came in to relieve Lovecchio in the sixth inning and gave up five hits, two walks and two runs in five innings pitched.
Loynaz hit three batters in the top of the sixth inning and walked in a run. Wildcat's third baseman Jairo Acevedo hit into a double play and a run scored on a fielder's choice to make the score 6-4.
Brandon Turner hit a single and David Lee hit a RBI single in the seventh inning for the Wildcats to make the score 6-5.
Brazeal and Matt Hart walked and Longley singled to load the bases for USF in the bottom of the seventh. Austin Lueck, pinch runner for Brazeal, scored on a walk by Chad Taylor. Falla hit an RBI sac fly to bring home Hart. The Bulls added two more runs and increased their lead to the final score.
Ray Delphey allowed one hit and no runs in two innings pitched. He pitched into a double play to get the save for the Bulls.
"We played well and we got clutch hits when we needed to," said Prado. "I'm proud of our guys and the way we bounced back."
The Bulls continue their home series against Bethune-Cookman at 6 p.m. on Saturday at USF Baseball Stadium.