TAMPA, MAY 6, 2017 – After two runs were scored in the top of the ninth to send things into extra innings, the University of South Florida baseball team walked off in the 10th to earn the series win with Saturday's 5-4 victory over East Carolina.
Junior Kevin Merrell (Odessa, Fla.) led off with the game with a home run for the third time this season to give the Bulls (36-10, 11-6 The American) and early edge. USF added to the lead with three more in the fifth to take a 4-0 advantage.
Redshirt-freshman Shane McClanahan was dominant through 5.0, before a two-run homer in the sixth made it 4-2. The Pirates (24-23, 4-13 The American) hit two more home runs in the eighth and ninth to tie the game at 4-4.
Merrell led off the bottom of the 10th with a triple to right center. Consecutive intentional walks and two outs later, sophomore David Villar (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) crushed a ball off the right field fence to give his team the win.
McClanahan struck out a career-high 13 batters. He tossed 7.0 innings and allowed five hits with just one walk.
Merrell matched a career-high with four hits, as he went 4-for-5 with three runs scored. The lead-off blast was his sixth homer of the year.
Villar went 2-for-5 with the RBI.
Sophomore Joe Genord (Lake Worth, Fla.) went 2-for-5 with a RBI.
Junior Joe Cavallaro (Venice, Fla.) tossed the last 1.1 innings, struck out two and picked up his third win of the year.
USF improves its record against ECU to 10-15, 6-5 in Tampa.
McClanahan's 13 strikeouts were the most for a Bull this season and the most by a USF pitcher since Jimmy Herget did so on May 3, 2014.
The Bulls remain in a tie for first in the league with Houston at 11-6. Though USF owns the tiebreaker thanks to last weekend's series win over the Cougars.
This was USF's fourth walk-off win of the season and it is now 3-1 in extra innings this year.
The Bulls are now 15-6 in games decided by one run or less this season.
The Bulls clubbed double-digit hits (11) for the 26th time this year.
Coach Kingston and David Villar on tonight's game.
The Bulls and Pirates wrap up the series Sunday at 1:00 p.m. USF will honor its five-man senior class prior to the game.
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.