DAYTONA, Fla.- The University of South Florida baseball team (8-10) jumped out to a 7-0 lead after 2.5 innings and the held on for a 11-9 win over Bethune-Cookman (9-11) Friday night in Daytona.
The Bulls exploded for seven runs in the first three innings to jump out to a commanding lead but it wouldn't be easy.
USF struck first as junior SS Sam Mende stayed hot at the plate with an RBI triple to the gap in right to get the Bulls on the board.
Mende came in to score when junior Todd Brazeal grounded out to the right side to extend the Bulls advantage to 2-0.
The Bulls weren't done in the inning as sophomore Chad Taylor got the Bulls going again with two outs in the frame.
Taylor singled, stole second and after a walk by Andrew Longley, Taylor came into score on fellow sophomore Jimmy Falla's RBI single to right field. The two-out RBI was the first of six two-out RBI on the night for the Bulls.
The Bulls added a run in the second on a RBI double by Mende, scoring Koscso and then added three in the third.
With runners on first and third, Alex Mendez dropped a drag bunt scoring Taylor, who lead off the inning with a double. One batter later, junior Luis Llerena singled to center to score Falla from second.
USF starting pitcher Nick Gonzalez was impressive early on retiring the first seven batters he faced but with two away in the third, Gonzalez would get into trouble.
He allowed a single and a base on balls and Bethune-Cookman took advantage. The Wildcats cut the Bulls' lead to 7-3 with a three-run homer by Alex Sanchez which was immediately followed by a solo homer run by catcher Peter O'Brien to make it 7-4 after three innings of play.
Bethune-Cookman continued to creep closer after an Anthony Stokes two-run homer. Six of the seven runs Gonzalez gave up on the night came via the long ball.
Gonzalez battled through five plus innings allowing a season high seven runs, scattering seven hits and striking out five.
Leading 7-6 after five, USF responded with their third three run inning of the game in the sixth, taking advantage of a throwing error on a ground ball hit to third by Andrew Longley, allowing Mende to score. Following a walk by Falla, sophomore Alex Mendez gave the Bulls a four run cushion with a two-out, two-run triple to the gap in right.
The Wildcats would not go away scoring runs in the bottom halves of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
With one out in the in eighth and holding a 11-9 advantage, USF called on senior RHP Kevin Quackenbush for a five out save and the Bulls closer delievered. Quackenbush retired the first batter he faced with a weak comebacker to the mound for out No. 2 and then struck out DJ Leonard for the final out of the inning.
Quackenbush picked up his team-leading fourth save of the season and secured Gonzalez's second win of the season by working a perfect ninth. Quackenbush struck out three of the five batters he faced lowering his ERA to a 0.84 in nine appearances.
After splitting two games in Daytina, both teams will now head to Tampa for the remaining two games of the four game set. Game three of the series is slated for a 7 p.m. first pitch with senior RHP Randy Fontanez on the bump for the Bulls. He will be opposed by Bethune-Cookman LHP Bryan Rivera.
Tonight’s game was played in 3:10… USF leads all-time series 50-12 over Bethune-Cookman... USF outhit, BCU 12-10... Gonzalez is now tied for the team-lead with two wins... USF is 8-3 when they outhit their opponents and 4-2 when scoring first... USF has won two of their last three... USF Junior SS Sam Mende has hit now in seven straight games... His RBI triple in the first drove in his first RBI since March 5 against Florida A&M... The multi-hit game is Mende's team-leading tenth of the season and the multi-RBI game is is third...The nine runs by Bethune-Cookman are the most allowed in a win this season by the Bulls... The seven runs allowed are the most allowed by Gonzalez in five starts... Making his first career start in left field, sophomore Jimmy Falla reached base a career-high four times... Falla is six for his last nine with 5 runs driven, three runs scored over his three game hit streak... Senior 3B Jonathan Koscso reached a career high six times, raising his on-base percentage to a team-high .452...