CLEARWATER – The Big East Rookie of the Year gave USF just what it needed in his conference tournament debut Wednesday night.
Freshman Jimmy Herget pitched 7 2/3 solid innings to help the fourth-seeded Bulls start their Big East run in stride with a 5-2 win over fifth-seeded Rutgers at Bright House Field.
USF (36-20) will face UConn 8 p.m. Thursday after the eighth-seeded Huskies upset top-seeded Louisville, 3-2, in 12 innings earlier Wednesday night.
Herget (6-2) picked up top conference honors after emerging as USF’s ace early in the season and the right-hander didn’t disappoint in his biggest game yet, giving up just one run on five hits and in his 117-pitch outing.
“The first couple of innings I was a little shaky, kind of overthrowing a little too much but as the game progressed I calmed myself down and focused on strikes,” said Herget, who finished with four strikeouts.
Clutch also was a good way to describe the USF offense that scored four of its five runs with two outs. Senior Chris Norton tied the game up at 1 with an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth and the Bulls busted the game open with a three-run fifth that featured RBI singles by Alex Mendez, James Ramsay and Jimmy Falla.
Ramsay capped off his 2-for-4 night with an RBI single in the seventh while Nik Alfonso went 3-for-3 and scored two runs to help the Bulls improve to 18-7 in Big East play this season.
“I’m happy with where we’re at. We just have to get a good night of sleep and be ready for tomorrow,” head coach Lelo Prado said.
USF took three straight from UConn in the regular season but certainly isn’t looking past the Huskies after watching them outplay Louisville when it mattered most.
“Louisville beat UConn three times during the season and UConn played great today,” Prado said.