TAMPA- USF will head into the Big East tournament will some momentum.
Buddy Putnam produced the go-ahead run that plated Jimmy Falla in the 12th inning and the Bulls held on for a 5-4 victory at West Virginia on Saturday afternoon in Morgantown. USF (34-20, 17-10) finished the regular season nine wins ahead of its 2011 total and gets to focus on a conference tournament it missed out on last year.
"We didn't win the regular season, but we have a chance in the conference tournament to do something with our program and hopefully everybody shows up," USF head coach Lelo Prado said. "It will all start out on the mound on Wednesday night."
The Bulls are the fourth seed for the Big East tournament and will face off against fifth-seeded UConn 8 p.m. Wednesday at Bright House Field in Clearwater.
USF got the scoring started in the finale of the three-game series with the Mountaineers (23-32, 9-18).
Anthony Diaz drove a two-out single up the middle that sent Todd Brazeal and Kyle Teaf home for a 2-0 Bulls lead in the top of the second inning. Blake Sydeski also came through with two outs in the third inning with an RBI single that scored Daniel Rockhold, who also singled with two outs.
USF's two-out magic continued in the fourth when James Ramsay singled up the middle to score Alex Mendez and the Bulls were off to a 4-0 advantage.
West Virginia got on the scoreboard right away in the bottom of the fourth when Brady Wilson led off with a solo home run off USF starter Matt Reed. The senior left-hander wound up lasting seven innings but exited with the game tied at 4 after the Mountaineers produced a three-run sixth inning.
The game went to extras after Bulls had a runner in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings but couldn't push the run across. Austin Adams relieved Reed and gave USF a chance to re-take a lead by pitching three hitless frames. Steven Leasure (1-0) ended up as the winner after giving up a hit in the final two innings, including a 1-2-3 12th.
Jimmy Falla got things going for USF in the top half of the 12th by leading off with a walk and stealing second. Teaf's one-out single put runners on first and third before Putnam's RBI groundout sent Falla home for the decisive run.
The Bulls will begin the Big East tournament, at this point with an undetermined seed, on Wednesday in Clearwater, Fla. at Bright House Stadium.