TAMPA, MARCH. 3, 2017 – Despite just five hits, the University of South Florida baseball team was able to earn 12 walks and saw its bullpen toss 6.2 scoreless frames in Friday’s 4-3 walkoff win over Toledo.
The Bulls (8-1) struck twice in the first inning. A Kevin Merrell (Odessa, Fla.) leadoff walk turned into a scoring opportunity when a failed pickoff attempt went to the right field fence. With Merrell on third, Luke Border (Winter Haven, Fla.) doubled to left to bring in the first run. A David Villar (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) double on the next at bat brought home Borders to give USF a 2-0 lead.
But the Rockets (1-8) used a pair of infield singles and a pair of walks in the third frame to tie the score, 2-2. After both sides tacked on runs in the fourth, the teams had to turn to their bullpens, which were lights out. After the Rockets loaded the bases in the seventh with just one away, Michael Jacob came on and struck out the next two Bulls.
He would strikeout a total of eight host players over 3.2 innings of one-hit ball to keep the offense at bay. But junior Joe Cavallaro (Venice, Fla.) matched the efforts behind 4.2 scoreless innings of his own one-hit ball and six strikeouts.
The efforts sent the game into extras, where Toledo finally had to make a pitching change. The Bulls threatened in the 11th by loading the bases before a Borders groundout to first base ended the opportunity. But USF again juiced the base pads in the 13th, as Garrett Zech (Naples, Fla.) got on first due to a dropped fly ball by the second baseman. Borders came up for a second time with three men aboard and patiently took a five pitch walk to clinch to four-hour win.
· Merrell went 1-for-4 with a run scored and matched a career high with four base on balls.
· Borders tallied just one hit (1-6) but drove in two runs.
· Villar also went 1-for-4, drove in a run and walked twice.
· Senior starter Phoenix Sanders (Gainesville, Fla.) went 6.1 innings, gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out nine.
· Classmate Ryan Valdes (Tampa) pitched the final two frames for the Bulls, allowing just one hit while striking out three to pick up the win.
· The Bulls are now 3-1 against the Rockets all-time.
· Cavallaro has logged 8.0 innings in his last three appearances and has surrendered just four hits, two walks and struck out 15.
About USF Baseball
The University of South Florida baseball team is one of the fastest rising programs in the country. Under the guidance of head coach Mark Kingston, the Bulls reached the NCAA Regionals in 2015 for the first time in 13 years and USF followed that success with a consensus Top 10 recruiting class. Five players from that recruiting class were everyday starters in 2016 including outfielder Chris Chatfield (Riverview, Fla.), who led the team in home runs, and catcher Joe Genord (Lake Worth, Fla.), who was named the 2016 PGCBL Player of the Year. The Bulls won series from two ranked teams in 2016 (No. 21 East Carolina, No. 25 Michigan State, began the 2017 season with a series win over Iowa and earned just it’s second win over a top-five team with a 4-2 victory against No. 3 Florida State on Feb. 21.
The USF Baseball program has won five conference titles and the Bulls have made 11 NCAA appearances. Follow the baseball team on social media (Twitter | Facebook | Instagram), visit GoUSFBulls.com for the most up-to-date information, and purchase tickets for upcoming games at USFBullsTix.com. For tickets, contact the USF Ticket Office at 1-800-Go-Bulls or by going online to USFBullsTix.com.