Up Next For the Bulls: Game 53: Pittsburgh | May 20 | 7 p.m. | USF Baseball Stadium
TAMPA - A pair of two-run, first inning homers by James Ramsay and Sam Mende were not enough to propel the University of South Florida baseball team (23-29, 11-14) as Pittsburgh (32-19, ,16-9) came from behind to take Game 1, 6-5, of a three game set Thursday night at the USF Baseball Stadium.
Ramsay's third homer of the season came the hard way, as his sinking liner into the gap in right skipped passed diving Pitt centerfielder Zach Duggan and rolled all the way to the wall, allowing Junior Carlin and Ramsay to score standing up for the inside the park homer.
Following a Todd Brazeal single, Mende broke a 2-for-18 skid with a more conventional homer, sending a 3-2 offering over the wall in left for his fifth homer of the season. It was the first of three hits in the game for Mende.
The Bulls jumped all over Pittsburgher starter Matt Iannazzo early tallying five hits in the first two innings but they were not be able to deliver the knock out blow to the lefty.
Iannazzo settled and relied on his offense to bail him out as Pitt scored a run in the second and another in the third off Bulls starter Randy Fontanez.
Pitt completed their comeback in the fifth on back-to-back swings from catcher Kevan Smith and first baseman David Chester. Pitt's No. 3 and clean-up hitters sent consecutive pitches by Fontanez over the left and centerfield walls for solo home runs and even the game at four.
Later in the inning, Pitt took the lead after what should have been the final out of the inning. The go-ahead run was able to score as a strike three swinging skipped away from Bulls catcher Andrew Longley and his errant throw to first allowed a run to score from second, to give Pitt a 5-4 lead.
USF answered immediately as a double by Jonathan Koscso down the left field line allowed Chad Taylor to score from first. The double was the 270th hit of Koscso's career, surpassing USF assistant coach Chris Heintz for eighth all-time on the school's career hit list.
After living dangerously all night, Pitt finally ended Fontanez's outing with a two-out,, RBI single by Travis Whitmore in the seventh to give Pitt the lead for good.
With the lead in hand, Iannazzo (7-3) gave way to reliever Alex Caravella, who shutdown the USF offense over the final three innings, allowing just one hit and strikeouting out four for the save.
Fontanez would take the loss, falling to 5-6 on the season, having dropped each of his last three starts. Still battling the lingering effects of a strained groin, Fontanez yielded six runs, four earned, on 11 hits. He struck out four while walking one.
With the loss and Seton Hall's win over Georgetown earlier, USF is a game behind the Pirates for the final spot in Clearwater and no longer controls their own destiny. The Bulls now need a Georgetown win over Seton Hall coupled with USF winning their final two remaining game against the Panthers
The Bulls and Panthers will do it again tomorrow evening with first pitch at 7 p.m at the USF Baseball Stadium.
Game Notes Jonathan Koscso's first inning single tied him for eighth with USF assistant Chris Heintz and surpassed him with an RBI double in the fifth... He now has 280 career hits... The RBI double was the 48th of his career, tying him for ninth most in USF history with 48... The home run for Mende is his 16th of his career and his fourth career homer against Pittsburgh... The start for Fontanez was the 55th of his career, tying him with Scott Glaser for the fifth most in USF history...