Bulls Host UNF, Battle FGCU on Road
Matchups: USF (19-1) vs. North Florida (14-7) / at Florida Gulf Coast University (18-3)
Dates: Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017 / Wednesday, Mar. 22, 2017
Times: 6:30 p.m. / 6:30 p.m.
Locations: Tampa, Fla. | USF Baseball Stadium (3,211) / Fort Myers, Fla. | Swanson Stadium (1,500)
Follow: (Tues.) Stats | Listen | Watch / (Wed.) Stats | Watch
TAMPA, MARCH. 20, 2017 – The University of South Florida baseball team plays a pair of midweek matchups, hosting North Florida on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. before traveling down to face No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday at 6:30.
Tuesday’s contest can be seen live on USF Baseball’s Facebook page. The game can be heard on AM 1040.
The Bulls (19-1) extended their winning streak to 18 with a four-game series sweep of Harvard over the weekend. The Bulls averaged over 11 runs per game and allowed just 11 runs total in the series. Sophomore infielder David Villar (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) led the Bulls with a .636 average over the weekend (7-11) with three homeruns, seven runs scored and 12 RBI. He clubbed a grand slam in Sunday’s 14-2 win.
Sophomore Coco Montes (Miami) saw his 13-game hitting streak come to an end in game one of Saturday’s double-header, but still hit .500 over the weekend with four runs scored. Montes is second on the team with a .413 average, just behind junior Kevin Merrell (Odessa, Fla.), who still leads the Bulls with a .416 average, six doubles and 26 runs scored.
USF will throw freshman D.J. Roberts (Jacksonville) on Tuesday. He has holds a 2.76 ERA in four appearances and two starts with 15 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched.
Redshirt-junior Peter Strzelecki (Lake Worth, Fla.) will return to the mound on Wednesday. He has made four starts and sports a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings of work.
Scouting Report – North Florida
Fueled by a nine-game winning streak that was snapped on March 11, the Ospreys (14-7) are off to a strong start to the season.
UNF has an A-Sun leading .294 team batting average thanks to six .300 hitters. Freshman outfielder Tanner Murphy is batting .393 with six doubles and 16 RBI. Junior outfielder Yahir Gurrola has played in all 21 games and is hitting .354 with 27 runs scored to sit ninth nationally and 11 doubles to rank sixth. He is also tied for the team lead with four homers and paces the Ospreys with 20 RBI. Senior utility man Chris Thibideau is hitting .351 with 18 runs, four bombs and 18 RBI. Senior infielder Patrick Ervin is hitting .338 and Alex Merritt and Chris Berry are each hitting .308.
The Osprey arms have performed well this season, holding a 3.19 combined ERA to lead the A-Sun. Freshman righty Cooper Bradford will go for UNF on Tuesday. He has appeared in seven games, has made two starts and holds a 1.32 ERA with 13.2 innings pitched. Bradford has struck out 16 and has walked six.
The Bulls trail UNF in the all-time series, 7-6.
Scouting Report – FGCU
The Eagles (18-3) are one of the hotter teams in the nation as well, having dropped just one of their last 15 games. FGCU swept a midweek two-game set against then-No. 2 Florida on March 7 and 8, then knocked off then-No. 1 FSU on March 15 to earn a No. 15 ranking this week.
The Eagles are powered offensively by junior shortstop Julio Gonzalez, who is hitting .365 with 16 runs scored, six doubles, two triples, two homers and 19 RBI. Junior outfielder Eli Lovell is hitting .333 with a team-best 25 runs scored and nine doubles. Junior catcher Spencer Levine is batting .318 with a team-high 24 RBI.
The pitching staff has combined for a 3.29 ERA. Redshirt-junior righty Mario Leno will make his fifth start of the year on Wednesday, as he sports a 3.93 ERA with 16 strikeouts on the year in 18.1 innings. Senior closer Sterling Koerner has been a horse at the backend of the bullpen, currently sitting with six saves on the year, seventh in the nation. He holds a 1.69 ERA and has recorded 12 strikeouts.
The Eagles own a 10-4 edge over the Bulls in the all-time series.
· The Bulls’ 18-game winning streak is the second longest in program history and the second-longest active streak in the nation, behind Missouri and Louisville.
· The Bulls tallied at least 13 hits for the seventh time in the last nine games on Sunday and plated double-digit men for the fifth time this season.
· Senior Luke Borders (Winter Haven, Fla.) has reached base safely in every game this season.
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.
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