TAMPA, MARCH. 18, 2017 – The University of South Florida baseball team won with both pitching and offense to sweep Saturday’s double-header with Harvard and extend the winning streak to 17 games.
In the opening game, the Bulls (18-1) plated three in the bottom of the sixth in the seven-inning contest, providing much-needed insurance. Redshirt-freshman Shane McClanahan (Cape Coral, Fla.) saw two runners get in scoring position in the first, but he settled down from there and dazzled the rest of the way.
McClanahan struck out a career-high 11 men in just 7.0 frames and did not allow a walk. The Crimson (7-6) did plate a run in the top of the seventh but it was all they would attain, as the hosts won 4-1.
Game two’s narrative changed significantly from the first contest, as seven combined runs were scored in the first two innings. After the Crimson took a 1-0 lead in the first, junior Kevin Merrell (Odessa, Fla.) tied the score with a leadoff homer to ignite a 3-0 inning for the Bulls.
Harvard tied the score once again in the top of the second, but USF took a lead for good in the bottom half. Sophomore Garett Zech (Naples, Fla.) led off with a triple to center, then Merrell drove him home in the next at bat.
USF added two more runs in the sixth and seventh, as starter Ryan Valdes (Tampa) settled down after allowing three runs in the first two frames, retiring 12 of 13 men at one point.
Harvard tacked on three runs in the final two innings, but the lead was enough to hold for an 8-6 win.
· Merrell went 4-for-8 on the day, 3-for-5 with two runs in game 2.
· Junior David Villar (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) had a monster day, going 4-for-6 with two runs scored and five RBI in the two games. He hit his second homerun of the season in the first game.
· Sophomore Joe Genord (Lake Worth, Fla.) combined for a 3-for-7 day with two runs scored and two RBI.
· The Bulls’ 17-game winning streak is the second longest in program history and the second-longest active streak in the nation.
· The Bulls tallied at least 15 hits in game two, the sixth time in the last eight games in which the team has recorded at least 14 hits.
· Sophomore Coco Montes (Miami) saw his hitting-streak end in game one, though it was only a seven inning contest. But he responded in the second game with a 3-for-5 effort, a run scored and a RBI.
· Senior Luke Borders (Winter Haven, Fla.) picked up a hit in each of the two games and has now reached base safely in every game this season.
The Bulls and Crimson wrap up the four-game series tomorrow afternoon with a 1:00 p.m. first pitch. The game can be streamed live on USF Baseball’s Facebook page.
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.