TAMPA, APRIL 8, 2017 – Trailing, 5-4, in the bottom of the ninth inning, the University of South Florida baseball team loaded the bases with one out and a routine grounder to short could have turned two, but the throw to first bounced in the dirt and to the wall, allowing the tying and winning runs to score in Saturday’s 6-5 final against UCF.
The Knights (23-9, 2-3 American) tied the game in the fourth with a solo home run off of redshirt-freshman Shane McClanahan (Cape Coral, Fla.), as it broke up what was a no-hitter. UCF then jumped on the Bulls (26-5, 3-2 American) with three runs in the fifth to take a 4-1 lead.
USF tallied twice in the bottom half to cut the lead, then the two sides exchanged runs in the eighth. The Bulls nearly tied things up in that eighth frame, but a single to center turned into a throw out at home when the speedy Kevin Merrell (Odessa, Fla.) tried to score from first base.
In the bottom of the ninth, the hosts loaded the bags with just one out and called on redshirt-junior Andres Leal (Tampa) to pinch hit. Behind in the count 0-2, he grounded the next pitch to short for what could have been a game-clinching double-play. But after the lead runner was out at second, the throw to first bounced in the dirt and to the wall along the right field line, allowing sophomore Cam Montgomery (Windermere, Fla.) to score the winning run.
· Sophomore Coco Montes (Miami) tied a career-best with four hits in five plate appearances. He scored a run and had one RBI.
· Sophomore David Villar (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and junior Duke Stunkel Jr. (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) each had two hits, as the latter drove in a man and scored once.
· Sophomore Joe Genord (Lake Worth, Fla.) went 2-for-5 with a RBI and senior Luke Borders (Winter Haven, Fla.) went 1-for-4 with two runs scored.
· McClanahan was dominant early, allowing just one baserunner and one hit through 4.0, before allowing three runs in the fifth. He struck out nine men.
· Senior Mark Savarese (Palm City, Fla.) picked up the win to improve to 3-0 as a reliever. He struck out the side in the top half of the ninth.
· This was the fourth walk-off win for USF this season and second-straight.
· Déjà vu? Savarese also earned the win in game one of this series while Montgomery also scored the winning run Friday.
· The Bulls are now 67-59 against UCF all time and 41-25 in Tampa.
Baseball’s War on I-4 continues tomorrow with the final game of the Tampa series. First pitch is set for 2:00 p.m., as it will be the third annual Cuts for Cancer game. The Bulls have been raising awareness and money for the Vs. Cancer Foundation up until tomorrow’s game. All USF players and coaches will be shaving their heads during a special post-game ceremony with the help of Great Clips. Those interested in shaving their heads can do so by making a $5 donation and those interested in joining the fight can click here.
Coach Kingston on tonight's win
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 win over FSU was part of the best start in program history thanks to a 19-game winning streak, the second-longest in USF Baseball records.
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.