TAMPA - Saturday's game was another example of what has made USF so successful this baseball season.
Derrick Stultz and Nick Gonzalez combined for a six-hit shutout while the Bulls' bats produced another big fifth inning in a 3-0 victory over UConn that secured the series win at USF baseball stadium. USF (32-18, 15-8) stayed within two games of first-place St. John's and moved into a tie for second place in the Big East standings.
Stultz (8-1) allowed four hits, walked one and struck out three while starting a day before he usually does in a weekend series. The right-hander exited the game with no outs in the seventh because of a blister and Gonzalez scattered two hits in the final three innings to earn his second save of the season.
"We could have left Stultz in there, but we just don't want to take a chance and we wanted Nick to throw a couple of innings coming into the game," head coach Lelo Prado said. "It was a good win for him."
Saturday marked two solid starts in two straight days by USF pitchers after Andrew Barbosa allowed two runs and struck out eight in the Bulls' 3-2 win over the Huskies in the series opener.
"If Stultz and Barbosa pitch the way they have the last two days we'll be pretty tough," Prado said.
USF gave the Huskies a headache in the fifth inning for the second straight game by scoring three runs with two outs for the second time in the series.
Andrew Longley doubled with one out and Kyle Teaf singled to put runners on the corners. Zac Gilcrease's single to second base gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead and they continued to cash in by hitting it to the same spot on the field with two outs. Alex Mendez hit a grounder to UConn's LJ Mazzilli, but a fielding error by the second baseman led to USF's second run. Luis Llerena followed with another grounder to Mazzilli and a throwing error plated Gilcrease.
"They have great arms, but you have to compete. We hit the ball hard all game," Prado said. "It's a great time to get hot."
Stultz was able to work out of a jam in the sixth to keep the 3-0 score intact. Tim Martin doubled down the line in left field and runners were on second and third after Mazzilli singled and stole second. Stultz responded with a strikeout and got out of the inning by getting Tom Verdi to fly out to right field.
Gonzalez never put the Bulls in danger and UConn's only runner in scoring position came in the ninth inning against the left-hander. That came with two outs and Gonzalez finished the relief appearance off by getting Alex DeBellis to fly out.
Sunday marks USF's final home game of the season and first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. back at USF baseball stadium.