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USF vs. Bethune-Cookman

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
–   A pair of triples by University of South Florida right fielder Stephen Hunt led the Bulls to a 12-8 victory over Bethune-Cookman University Wednesday night.

Stephen Hunt picked up three RBI on a triple in the third inning and drove in two more in the eighth on his second three-bagger of the night. 

Joe Cole picked up the win by pitching 1.1 innings allowing just one hit and two walks and striking out two. USF starter Matt Reed was relieved after 2.2 innings when he allowed four runs and two walks while striking out one.

Joseph Munoz was tagged with the loss for Bethune-Cookman after pitching 2.1 innings allowing three runs on two hits a walk and striking out two.

Sam Mende had three hits in the game, while a trio of Bulls—Brandon Smith, Ryan Lockwood and Hunt each had two hits apiece.

After a 4-4 deadlock in the third, USF added one in the fourth, but B-CU picked up a couple in the fifth and sixth innings to take the 6-5 lead after six. USF added five in the eighth and a pair in the ninth to run away with the game, 12-8.

The USF offense got into high gear in the third inning when it scored four runs on four hits. With one out, Jonathan Koscso drew a walk, then Sam Mende singled to left field. Brazeal loaded the bases with a single to right, bringing Stephen Hunt to the plate. Hunt found the gap in right center field, clearing the bases and giving USF the first three runs of the game. One out later, designated hitter Brandon Smith singled through the left side, which plated Hunt, giving USF the 4-0 edge after the top of the third.

Jairo Acevedo led off the bottom of the third with a single to right, then Alejandro Jimenez was hit by a pitch and both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by USF’s Matt Reed. C.J. Lauriello grounded out to Mende at shortstop, advancing all Wildcats. Chris Brown then doubled down the left line, allowing Jimenez to score. Emmanuel Castro cleared the bases with a two-run homer over the left field wall, tying the game, 4-4.

USF re-took the lead with small ball in the fourth. Peter Brotons reached on a leadoff walk and was moved around on a sac bunt and a ground out. He then scored on a wild pitch, pushing the Bulls lead to 5-4.

Bethune-Cookman answered with one run in the fifth and another in the sixth.  Wildcats Chris Brown and Ryan Durrence both collected doubles in the fifth and Lauriello and Brown each hit singles after Acevedo drew a leadoff walk.

USF broke things open when they scored five runs on four hits in the eighth to take the 10-6 lead. Smith caught the B-CU defense on their heels and put down a bunt for a base hit. Longley reached on an error by the first baseman, which advanced Smith to third. After Smith was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice on a ball hit by Brotons, Lockwood singled to center field to load the bases. Koscso plated Longley on a base hit to right field, then Brotons and Lockwood scored on a wild pitch and a throwing error by the Wildcat catcher. With two outs, Brazeal drew a walk in time for Hunt to connect on his second triple of the night, driving in two more runs.

In the top of the ninth, Longley drew the one-out walk, then moved to third after Brotons singled through the left side. Brotons got caught in a rundown for the second out of the inning, but Lockwood drew a walk and Koscso singled down the left field line to drive in Longley. Mende brought home USF’s final run with a single down the right line.

The Wildcats were able to slim the Bulls’ lead to 12-8 in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a two-run home run by Peter O’Brien, but USF was able to hold on for their 14th victory of the season.

USF now heads north to play a three-game BIG EAST series against the UConn Huskies this weekend. With afternoon starts, the Bulls will play at 3 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and Noon on Sunday.

Fans can follow the action with through live chat, live stats and BullsVision Radio on GoUSFBulls.com.