By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA, FEB. 23, 2014 – Michael Arencibia drove in the go-ahead run during a three-run seventh inning to help the Bulls sweep their home-opening series against Penn State with a 6-5 victory Sunday before a crowd of 1,406 at USF Baseball Stadium.
“They have pride and they don’t want to lose,” head coach Lelo Prado said. “As long as they keep that attitude and stay positive they’re going to be a pretty good ball club. They have to stay positive and continue to get better.”
The Bulls (7-0) are off to their best start since opening the 1982 season with an 8-0 record after getting a solid all-around team effort all weekend long.
USF outscored Penn State, 36-13, after racking up 12 more hits on Sunday. Junior Austin Lueck (Daytona) went 4-for-4 with an RBI and junior Kyle Teaf (Tallahassee) went 2-for-3 from the leadoff spot, while freshman Luke Borders, sophomore Levi Borders and sophomore Hayden Kelley (Tampa) each drove in runs.
“We’re getting a lot of production out of a lot of newcomers and when you’re doing that you give yourself a chance to win,” Prado said.
Freshman Michael Farley (Valrico, Fla.) picked up the win after pitching 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief and senior Janick Serrallonga (Hialeah, Fla.) secured his second save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning.
Freshman Brandon Lawson (Spring Hill, Fla.) gave the Bulls six innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits. The right-hander struck out two and walked one in a 90-pitch performance that was good enough for Prado.
“I thought he battled and he gave us some innings, which we need today,” Prado said. “If you can get your Sunday starter to give us some innings we’ll be OK.”
The Bulls scored 30 runs in the first two games of the series and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning of Saturday’s finale. Nik Alfonso hit a single with one out, Luke Maglich followed with a walk and Luke Borders drove in a run by legging out an infield single. Borders, a freshman from Winter Haven, Fla., hit his first-career home run in Saturday’s 11-7 victory.
Penn State (2-4) sent eight batters to plate while seizing the lead during a three-run second inning. Lawson settled down and followed with two scoreless frames and the Bulls’ bats backed him up with a two-run fourth inning. Kelley drove in his first run as a Bull with a single through the right side and freshman Vincent Miniet (Tampa) came around to score on a passed ball.
Penn State picked up a run in the sixth and grabbed a 5-3 lead in the seventh, but the Bulls retook the lead for good with three runs in the bottom half of the seventh. Maglich started the rally with a leadoff single, Daniel Portales, a freshman from Tampa, followed with a single and Luke Borders loaded the bases thanks to an error in center field that proved to be costly for the Nittany Lions.
Levi Borders cut into the deficit with an RBI infield single and Austin Lueck followed with an RBI single to right field. Arencibia, a junior from Key West, Fla., provided the go-ahead run with a groundout to the shortstop.
The Bulls are back in action 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Stetson before returning to USF Baseball Stadium to host Columbia in a four-game series that begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28. Purchase tickets for USF’s second home series of the season HERE.