Orlando, Fla.- It was a battle until the end for the University of South Florida baseball team (7-9) as it took on Central Florida Tuesday night at Jay Bergman Field in Orlando in a game broadcasted on the Bright House Sports Network. After trailing for most of the game, USF mounted a late comeback to take a 6-5 win, its first on the road this season.
Junior pitcher Matt Reed, who held Miami to just two runs on March 1 at the Florida Four, came into the game looking for his first win of the season despite posting a respectable 3.18 ERA in four appearances (two starts).
Reed cruised through the first three innings before surrendering three runs on two UCF homers in the fourth, the first home runs he has allowed all season. He regained his composure following the tough inning and was able to keep his team in it.
USF's bats struggled to get anything going early behind Reed, as they were shut out until the seventh inning when freshman centerfielder James Ramsay drew a leadoff walk to get things going. Prior to the inning, the Bulls had seen just one runner reach scoring position (a leadoff double by Jonathan Koscso in the sixth).
With two outs in the seventh, sophomore Jimmy Falla entered the game as a pinch hitter and drove in Ramsay on a single to center field to give USF its first run of the game. Koscso followed with another RBI single that drove in second baseman Luis Llerena, who reached on a pinch single earlier in the inning.
Falla assumed the role of hero for USF and spoiler for the Knights, when he followed up his seventh-inning RBI hit with a base-clearing single the very next inning to push his team to a thrilling come-from-behind win on the road.
Making the night even more special was the fact Falla was in the middle of a one-for-28 slump coming in. He went two-for-two with a career-high four RBI.
"We got down early but the pitchers kept us in there and we kept playing defense and just scraping away," said Falla after the win. " It was definitely big for us to come and get the win. I'm happy to be the guy today, but there's no doubt in my mind that tomorrow could be someone else and any day anyone can step up and win the game for us."
Koscso had his most productive day of the season for USF as well, going four-for-five against the Knights, while driving in his first RBI of the season. It was also the seventh game with three of more hits for Koscso in his tenure at USF.
Senior Junior Carlin came in from his left field postion to throw an inning, which was good enough to pick up his first win of the season and the second of his career.
Senior closer Kevin Quackenbush worked 1.1 scoreless innings to pick up his third save in as many chances this season. Quackenbush struck out the side in the ninth to close out the Bulls 57th win in the all-time series.
The two programs will meet again on May 3 in Tampa.
Coach Lelo Prado hopes the team's big comeback on the road is a sign that the offense is starting to come around, jump starting a some guys who were struggling a bit at the plate.
"The best part about it is everybody played a role," said Prado. "Those guys that came off the bench--- Luis had a couple hit and Falla had some big hits---They've been struggling all year and it's great to see those guys get going. We took one step forward and now we got to just keep going."
The Bulls will now leave home for the first time during their non-conference weekends for a split four-game series with Bethune-Cookman on March 17-20. The first two games of the series will be in Daytona and the final two games will be in Tampa. USF will not leave the state of Florida during the non-conference portion of their schedule.
Tonight's attednace was 1,711... The game was played in 2:40... USF is now 57-51 against UCF all-time and have won three of their last four against the Knights... The start at designated hitter for Randy Fontanez was the first of his career... The four hits for Koscso marked the 3rd four-hit game of his career and 44th multi-hit game of his career... SS Sam Mende has hit safely in five straight... He is 9-19 over his last five games... The run batted in for Koscso was the first of the season and the 95th of his career... The come-from-behind win is the first of the season for USF... Junior Todd Brazeal had his seven game hit streak snapped after going 0-for-4 on the night... The save for Quackenbush is the 12th of his career... The win for Carlin is just the second of his career... USF is 6-3 with Koscso in the leadoff spot.