Bulls Head to North Florida For Midweek Tilt
TAMPA, APRIL 18, 2017 – The University of South Florida baseball team ventures up to Jacksonville for a Wednesday night matchup against North Florida at 6:00 p.m.
It is the first of four road games for the Bulls this week. The action can be heard on AM 1040.
USF salvaged its weekend series against Cincinnati over the weekend, winning Sunday’s game by a score of 4-2. The Bulls dropped the opening game, 9-3, the second in 10 innings, 3-2, but clubbed four solo homeruns in the victory on Sunday.
The Bulls put a stop to a two-game slide against the Ospreys with a 7-3 win in Tampa on March 21. The two squads are tied in the all-time series, 7-7. USF leads in Tampa, 6-4, but trails in Jacksonville, 3-1. The Bulls trailed, 3-2, in the seventh inning of the season’s first meeting, until sophomore David Villar (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) hit a three-run blast to right. USF scored the game’s last five runs. Juniors Kevin Merrell (Odessa, Fla.) and Duke Stunkel Jr. (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), senior Luke Borders (Winter Haven, Fla.) and sophomore Garrett Zech (Naples, Fla.) each tallied two hits in that game.
Scouting Report – North Florida
The Ospreys have gone 12-5 since enduring the 7-3 setback in Tampa on March 21. They have won six of the last seven entering a Tuesday night matchup at No. 12 Florida. The most prolific offense in the ASUN leads the league in batting average, runs, hits and doubles. The bats are paced by redshirt-senior infielder Patrick Ervin with a conference-best .361 average. He has 33 runs and 22 RBI.
Four other Osprey starters are hitting over .300, as junior outfielder Yahir Gurrola is batting .347 with 46 runs scored, fourth in the country. He has 15 doubles and 40 RBI, both tops in the ASUN to go along with six homers. Senior Chris Thibideau is hitting .338 and also has six homeruns. Classmate Alex Merritt and sophomore Matt Berry are batting .327 and .318, respectively, with 49 runs scored and 56 RBI combined.
The arms are top heavy, with sophomore and Tampa product Frank German dominating the weekend starts with his 6-0 mark and 2.22 ERA. But junior righty and fellow Tampa native Matt Vaka will go on Wednesday. He has not had a decision in eight appearances and three starts. He holds a 6.30 ERA and has struck out 13 in 20.0 innings. Closer Matthew Naylor has been the anchor at the end of the bullpen with seven saves and a 1.07 ERA in 25.1 innings. He has struck out 28 men.
· The Bulls are still receiving votes according to USA Today (53). The Bulls are now at No. 30 in terms of RPI and are ranked No. 25 according to the NCBWA.
· Senior Luke Borders hit .368 last week with three runs, two doubles, two homers and three RBI.
· Freshman D.J. Roberts (Jacksonville) will start in the return to his hometown. He has struck out 25 in 28.2 innings.
· Borders hit .429 over the weekend against Cincy, as he belted two homeruns in Sunday’s 4-2 win. It was the second-straight weekend in which he hit .429.
· Sophomore Cameron Montgomery (Windermere, Fla.) hit a team-best .385 last week with a double, a run scored and two RBI. Cam has either driven in a run or scored a run in the eighth inning or later in each of his last three appearances off the bench.
· Junior Kevin Merrell continues to lead USF in hitting with his .405 average.
· The Bulls’ pitching still ranks in the top-five in the nation team ERA (4), hits allowed per nine innings (4) and still leads the country in strikeouts per nine innings with 10.6.
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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