TAMPA – The No. 20 Bulls needed a ton of extra pages to complete a historic chapter in its storybook season Friday night.
James Ramsay’s go-ahead single sparked a six-run 19th inning for USF in its 8-2 victory at Notre Dame that kept the Bulls ahead in the Big East standings. The game was the longest in school history and marked the seventh consecutive extra-inning win for the Bulls (30-15, 14-2).
The five-hour marathon tied the Big East record for innings played and marked the 10th consecutive conference victory for a USF team that’s on a four-game winning streak.
“They believe in each other and they believe we’re going to get it done right,” head coach Lelo Prado said. “There is something special going on there and I’m not trying to figure it out.”
Lawrence Pardo, Chad Taylor Janick Serrallonga, Adrian Puig and Steven Leasure combined to throw 12 innings of shutout relief. Serrallonga, Puig and Leasure (3-1) each went at least three innings while combining for seven strikeouts and no walks. Starter Jimmy Herget kept the Bulls in it early by striking out six and allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits in seven innings.
“Everybody contributed to a great team win,” Prado said.
The Bulls also set a new Big East record for at-bats with 75 while Alex Mendez, Jimmy Falla, Kyle Copack and Zac Gilcrease tied the Big East record with nine at-bats apiece.
Mendez had three hits and his two-run double off Irish closer Dan Slania tied the game with two outs in the ninth inning. Mendez got things going for the Bulls in the 19th inning when he singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Ramsay followed with a go-ahead single and Falla ended his four-hit night with an RBI single that extended the advantage to 4-2.
Anthony Diaz and Gilcrease also drove in runs in an inning that featured two costly throwing errors by Notre Dame. Slania lasted nine innings and threw 140 pitches for the Irish (27-18, 7-9).
“We did what we had to do. We need a good night of sleep to get ready for tomorrow,” Prado said.
Game two of the series starts at 2:05 p.m. Saturday at Frank Eck Stadium.