TAMPA - The No. 28 Bulls used a four-run 13th inning to defeat Stetson, 6-2, and extend their season-high winning streak to nine games Tuesday night in DeLand, Fla.
Jimmy Falla produced the go-ahead hit with one out when he connected for a two-run double with the bases loaded.
“For us to be good he has to continue to keep hitting and he did a good job. If we’re going to win, he’s going to have to play a big role in it,” said head coach Lelo Prado of the senior.
Chris Norton followed with an RBI single as USF (23-14) won in its first game since gaining a national ranking.
“We didn’t exactly play great, especially on offense, but they played hard the whole game and that’s the reason we were able to overcome all our mistakes,” Prado said.
Falla drove in three runs while Norton went 3-for-7 with two RBIs in the Bulls’ 10th victory in their past 11 games. James Ramsay went 3-for-6 with two stolen bases and Anthony Diaz went 2-for-6 with a walk. Kyle Teaf, who walked twice, reached base for the 31st consecutive game.
“Good things happen to kids that come to play hard every day and do the right things,” Prado said.
USF starter Mike Clarkson allowed two hits in 5 2/3 innings of scoreless work while impressing Prado with his command in an important game for the Bulls.
“I thought he threw the ball better tonight than any time all year,” Prado said. “If we’re going to win, the Tuesday starter is a huge part of the program.”
Adrian Puig (2-0) got the win by keeping the Hatters (17-21) off the scoreboard for the final 2 2/3 innings. Puig entered the game with a runner on second in the 11th inning and hit a batter before getting an inning-ending double play.
“He got himself out of a jam and did a great job. I’m proud of him and he needs to continue to keep going," Prado said.
The Bulls are ranked for the first time since 2009 but Prado said the team is staying focused on the big picture heading into a three-game series at UConn that starts 6:30 p.m. Friday. The Bulls are 7-2 in Big East play and tied atop the conference standings with Louisville.
“I want to be ranked at the end of the year. That means we’ve had a good year, so Friday is the next big one. We have to go to Connecticut and take care of business,” Prado said.