War On I-4 Hits Orlando For Season's Finale Series
Matchup: USF (39-13, 13-8 The American) at UCF (36-17, 13-8 The American)
Date: Thursday-Saturday, May 18-20, 2017
Time: 6:30 p.m. | 6:30 p.m. | 1:00 p.m.
Location: Orlando, Fla., | UCF Baseball Complex (3,600)
Follow: Stats | Listen | Watch (Thursday-Friday / Saturday)
TAMPA, MAY 17, 2017 – The University of South Florida baseball team and the University of Central Florida conclude the regular season with a three-game set in Orlando beginning Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
The games can be heard on AM 1040. Thursday and Friday's games can be watched on UCFKnights.tv and Saturday's game is being aired live on CBS Sports Network.
What's At Stake?
· There is a logjam atop The American standings, as USF, Houston and UCF are all 13-8. The Bulls own the tiebreaker over both the Knights (3-0) and Cougars (2-1).
· The Bulls control their own destiny and will finish no worse than second heading into the conference tournament by taking two of three this weekend. A sweep will ensure a regular-season title.
The Bulls dropped an offensive battle at Jacksonville on Tuesday night, 11-9. USF tallied 13 hits and five doubles, as it erased a 6-2 deficit and made it 11-9 with the tying runs at the plate twice after falling behind 11-6.
Senior Luke Borders (Winter Haven, Fla.) went 3-for-4 with two runs, two doubles and two RBI. Junior Kevin Merrell (Odessa, Fla.) and sophomores David Villar (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), Coco Montes (Miami) and Cameron Montgomery (Windermere, Fla.) each had two hits. The quartet combined for four runs and four RBI.
The Bulls and Knights will meet for the 128th time Thursday night. USF swept UCF in Tampa from April 7-9, just the third series sweep of at least three games in the history of the series. The Bulls now lead the all-time series, 68-59, and own the edge in Tampa, 42-25. The Knights hold a 33-22 advantage in Orlando.
· The Bulls' pitching staff continues to lead the country in strikeouts per nine innings (10.5). The staff ranks sixth in hits allowed per nine innings, seventh in WHIP and seventh in team ERA.
· The USF offense leads the conference with a .298 team average, a .395 on base percentage and sits second with a .439 slugging percentage.
· Borders hit .429 in the sweep of the Knights with a double, triple, homer, five runs and two RBI.
· Sophomore Joe Genord (Lake Worth, Fla.) hit .400 with a double and two RBI, as six Bulls hit over .330.
· Junior reliever Joe Cavallaro (Venice, Fla.) logged 5.1 scoreless innings of four-hit ball, struck out 10 and did not surrender a walk in two appearances against UCF that weekend.
· The Bulls were ranked No 25 according to Baseball America and USA Today as of Monday and check in at No. 21 in RPI.
· USF tied the program record for most strikeouts in a single season with the year's 544th K Tuesday at Jacksonville.
· With one more win, the Bulls will become the first team in program history to reach 40 victories since the 1996 squad.
· Merrell remains atop the league with a .390 average to sit 18th in the nation.
· The Bulls will throw their usual weekend rotation of righty Phoenix Sanders (Gainesville, Fla.) on Thursday, lefty Shane McClanahan (Cape Coral, Fla.) on Friday and righty Peter Strzelecki (Lake Worth, Fla.) on Saturday.
Scouting Report – UCF
The Knights enter the season's final series led by its pitching staff that is first in the league with a 2.84 ERA. Righty Robby Howell will get the start Thursday with his 3.36 ERA and 74 strikeouts. Righty Chris Williams will make the start Friday sporting a 3.05 ERA in 59.0 innings and lefty freshman Joseph Sheridan will start Saturday with his 3.46 ERA and 56 strikeouts.
The bullpen continues to be led by senior righty Trent Thompson and sophomore lefty Bryce Tucker. Thompson has a 1.29 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 17 appearances and Tucker has a 1.15 ERA in 24 appearances with 50 strikeouts.
The offense that leads the conference in scoring is paced by senior outfielder Eli Putnam, hitting .335 with 44 runs, 15 doubles and 36 RBI. Anthony George is hitting .319 in 38 games played and Luke Hamblin is batting .304 with 44 runs and 32 RBI. Redshirt sophomore infielder Kyle Marsh is hitting .301, sits second on the team with 44 RBI and leads the squad with 16 doubles. Freshman Rylan Thomas is hitting .299 with a team-leading 12 homers and 46 RBI.
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.
– #GoBulls –