TAMPA - Derrick Stultz keeps proving he's the go-to guy when the Bulls need to stopper.
The senior right-hander gave up one run on three hits in 7 1/3 innings, which gave USF's bats time to get going in a 3-1 victory over Villanova on Sunday after the Wildcats took the first two games of the series.
Stultz (7-1) helped USF stop a Louisville winning streak a week ago when he gave up a run on six hits in eight strong innings.
"That's two weeks in a row that he's stepped up when his club needed him," head coach Lelo Prado said. "He's an upperclassman; he's been around and knows what it's all about. He's done a great job."
Stultz's second straight victory was secured by relievers Austin Adams and Nick Gonzalez, along with the glove of sophomore right fielder James Ramsay, who made a diving catch with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning.
USF (29-16, 12-6) gave Stultz a lead to work with during a two-run fourth inning. Ramsay, who went 2-for-4, produced a one-out single, advanced to second on a groundout by Todd Brazeal and gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead on a single to center by Jimmy Falla. Kyle Teaf put USF ahead, 2-0, with a two-out bunt single.
Kyle Copack added USF's insurance run in the seventh with an RBI single to right field that scored Teaf after the freshman worked a one-out walk and stole second base.
"They have my back," Stultz said. "Everyone has stepped up and did a tremendous job. It's really paid off."
Adams acquired two runners with an out in the eighth before hitting his first batter to load the bases. The right-hander registered a strikeout and got out of the inning thanks to Ramsay, who tracked down a sinking liner and made a diving play in right-center to save at least two runs.
"That's the game-saver. If that ball gets by everybody scores," Prado said. "He's a great outfielder and when he gets up and goes, he's pretty good."
USF remained within striking distance of first place in the Big East and has a chance to gain ground on leader St. John's when the teams play a three-game series in New York that starts 6 p.m. Friday.
"Any conference games are huge, but this (series) I think is going to set the tone for the rest of the season for us," Stultz said.