TAMPA, MARCH. 10, 2017 – Already off to its best start in program history, the University of South Florida baseball team extending its win streak to 12 games with Friday’s 11-2 victory over Valparaiso.
The Bulls (13-1) and Crusaders (6-6) each had chances in the first two innings, stranding three runners apiece. But the hosts struck first with two in the third frame to give ace Phoenix Sanders (Gainesville, Fla.) a lead that would not be relinquished.
After tallying a run in the fourth and fifth, USF gave itself plenty of insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Kevin Merrell (Odessa, Fla.) got on with a leadoff bunt. Following a walk, senior Luke Borders (Winter Haven, Fla.) singled to bring home Merrell. Two batters later, Duke Stunkel Jr. (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) drove a pitch down the right field line to plate two more runs, making it 7-0. The margin would extend to as many as 11-0 with a four-run eighth all coming with two outs.
· Merrell tallied a pair of hits and two runs.
· Stunkel Jr. finished with a game-best three hits in four at bats, two RBI and a run.
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.