By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – Nine runs in the first two innings helped the Bulls roll to an 11-4 victory over Rutgers on Thursday night at USF Baseball Stadium.
Every batter in the lineup had at least one hit and James Ramsay set his new career high with four as USF extended its home winning streak to 13 games. The Bulls (34-19, 16-6) is now 10-0 against Big East opponents at USF Baseball Stadium.
Kyle Teaf and Alex Mendez combined to go 4-for-8 with four runs scored and two RBIs at the top of the batting order. Chris Norton drove in three runs and Anthony Diaz went 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
“I was happy with the approach. Chris (Heintz) has been working hard with the guys and we just have to continue that because we’re going to need to score some runs to wins some games,” head coach Lelo Prado said.
Ramsay extended his hitting streak to 11 games while driving in two runs in the opener of USF’s final regular season series. The junior center fielder has 14 hits in his past 23 at-bats and has reached base safely in 32 straight games.
“He’s right on the ball and when he’s hitting line drives in the middle of the field, he’s good,” Prado said. “We need him down the stretch and he’s been a big plus for us the last couple of games.”
Rutgers starter Rob Smorol’s night ended with one out in the second inning after USF scored six runs off the senior left-hander in the programs’ first meeting since 2011.
The Scarlet Knights’ bullpen was busy during USF’s four-run first inning that started with four straight hits. Teaf led off with a double and made it home one batter later when Mendez singled up the middle. Ramsay followed with another single up the middle and Jimmy Falla made it 2-0 Bulls with an RBI double to left-center. Norton and Diaz also drove in runs as USF fell one man short of batting all the way through the lineup in the frame.
Nik Alfonso led off the Bulls’ five-run second inning with a single and scored two batters later when Mendez singled up the middle and advanced to second on a fielding error. Smorol (5-6) headed to the dugout one batter later when Ramsay ripped an RBI double to left-center.
Nathaniel Roe, Rutgers' second pitcher, had a rough start to his night as well. The senior right-hander didn’t get an out until it was 9-0 USF after Norton hit a two-run double and Diaz added a run-scoring sacrifice fly.
“It’s nice when you’re a starting pitcher and you get nine runs by the second inning. That doesn’t happen very often,” Prado said.
Starter Jimmy Herget (5-2) struck out three and gave up two earned runs on six hits in five innings.
Left-hander Nick Gonzalez will look to help USF secure the series victory 7 p.m. Friday and senior right-hander Joey Lovecchio is scheduled to start the Bulls’ regular season finale 1 p.m. Saturday.