PITTSBURGH, Pa.--The University of South Florida (23-30, 14-11 BIG EAST) fell victim a John Schultz two-run walk-off home run as the University of Pittsburgh (37-14, 18-6 BIG EAST) rallied to erase USF leads of 3-1, 6-4 and 7-6 and take game one of the three game series at Trees Field Thursday evening.
The Bulls jumped out to a 3-1 lead after three innings, thanks to an RBI double from Stephen Hunt in the first, a solo homer by Chad Taylor in the second and RBI fielder's choice by Todd Brazeal.
The Panthers scratched across three of their own in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead.
The lead was short-lived as the Bulls put the first five runners on base in the fifth inning and posted a three spot highlighted by a two-run single from Brazeal.
Junior Carlin extended the lead to 6-4 with a successful safety squeeze bunt to score Hunt.
The Panthers continued to chip away touching up Bulls' starter Randy Fontanez for a run in the fifth to narrow the gap.
Fontanez battled through 6.2 innings but left with the lead despite giving up six runs while scattering 10 hits. He struck out six Panthers on the night.
With a 6-5 lead in the sixth, Fontanez retired the first two batters of the inning but a Danny Lopez single chased the Bulls ace from the game. After giving up a base hit, reliever Joe Cole looked like he got the final out by getting Pitt slugger Joe Leonard to bounce to shortstop but Brazeal dropped Sam Mende's throw to load the bases. Lopez came around to score on David Chester's bases-loaded walk.
With the game tied at six in the eighth, Sam Mende gave the Bulls their fourth lead of the night with a solo shot to left off of left Alex Carvella.
After giving up the walk, Cole settled down and retired the Panthers in order in the eighth. After getting the first out in the ninth, he hit Lopez and gave up the game winner to Schultz.
Despite leading for most of the game, the Bulls were out-hit 12-8 by the home squad. Hunt led the way for the Bulls. He collected three hits in three at-bats and reached base succussfully in all four plate appearances. Freshman Luis Llerena scored three times in the leadoff spot.
With poor weather due to hit the Pittsburgh area, the Bulls and Panthers will likely play a doubleheader scheduled to start at 3 p.m. on Friday. Stay tuned to GoUSFBulls.com for up to date for any changes for the remaining schedule for the weekend.
The Bulls were without junior Ryan Lockwood who was injured in batting practice... Stephen Hunt collected another three hit game, he leads the team in multi-hit games this season... Luis Llerena scored three times as the leadoff man on Thursday, he has now crossed the plate 23 times on the year for the Bulls... Hunt reached base four times, including three hits to improve his batting average to a team best .315 on the season... Chad Taylor and Sam Mende each hit a home run in the loss, both of them collecting their fifth round-tripper of the season, good for third on the team.