First Place Bulls Down West Virginia 8-3
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 F WVU USF vs. WVU
Game One: USF 8, WVU 3
Game Two: Saturday 7 p.m.
Game Three: Sunday 1 p.m.
USF at UCF| April 28 | Orlando, Fla.
USF vs. WVU
TAMPA –In front of a packed house of 1135, the Bulls baseball team got a complete game from Randy Fontanez to beat the West Virginia Mountaineers 8-3 on Friday night.
The crowd was the second biggest of the season for USF, with the largest coming against Oklahoma on March 14, when 1294 fans packed Red McEwen Field.
The Bulls improved to 13-3 in BIG EAST play and 25-15 overall to take a two-game lead over West Virgina in conference action. The Bulls lead Louisville by one game after both teams won on Friday.
USF starting pitcher Randy Fontanez pitched nine innings, allowing eight hits and three earned runs in his fifth BIG EAST win of the season.
The complete game is the fourth of the season for Fontanez, who improved to 5-3 overall.
“He has been a great starter all year,” said pitching coach Lazer Collazo. "We all know he has come out and given us seven or eight plus innings every time. He gives us quality innings and quality starts, and tonight was no different from Randy."
West Virginia got 6.2 innings from starter Jarryd Summers who allowed seven runs, five earned on nine hits while striking out five. After Summers, WVU used four other pitchers to finish the game.
The Bulls got a pair of hits from four different players including Ryan Lockwood, Stephen Hunt, Peter Brotons and Junior Carlin. Jonathan Koscso, Todd Brazeal and Hunt each accounted for a pair of RBI with Brazeal’s coming on a two-run home run, his third bomb of the season.
The Bulls got off to a quick start as Ryan Lockwood doubled to left center to extend his streak of consecutive games in which he has reached base safely to 82 games. The hit also extended his current hitting streak to eight games.
After the double, Lockwood stole third and came home to score on a ground ball to second off the bat of Jonathan Koscso.
After two consecutive outs to begin the bottom of the third, the Bulls bats woke up. Jonathan Koscso started the two-out rally with a triple to left-center. Koscso came home on a single by Hunt, and on a 1-1 count, Brazeal hit a two-run home run over the left-field fence, his third four-bagger of the year.
After the homer, Brandon Smith walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch to bring up Trey Manz. Manz reached on an error, allowing Smith to score from second and give the Bulls their fourth two-out run of the inning.
The Mountaineers got a leadoff walk from Joe Agreste in the top of the fifth before a fly out and a strike out. With two outs in the inning, WVU got a single from Dan DiBartolomeo and a walk from Jedd Gyorko to load the bases. Next up was Vince Belnome, who cleared the bases with a gapper to left-center field which cut the USF lead to 5-3.
In the bottom of the sixth, Manz led off by driving a ball to deep center, which appeared to clear the wall and hit the batter’s eye screen, which would be a home run. Manz went into his home run trot and was tagged at third. USF Head Coach Lelo Prado came out and argued emphatically, but the umpires did not reverse their call. After a few minutes of spirited arguing, Prado was thrown out of the game.
“Our ball club came ready to play in this ballgame, and this whole weekend. Obviously coach was upset. He is one of those coaches that is really fiery and in the game on every pitch,” said Collazo.
With excitement buzzing through the crowd after Prado’s ejection, Fontanez got three ground balls to shortstop for a perfect top of the seventh.
The Bulls got a leadoff single from Brotons to begin the bottom half of the seventh. Lockwood put down a bunt, and WVU tried to force Brotons at second, but the throw soared into centerfield allowing Brotons to advance to third. Brotons then scored when Koscso grounded out to third, and Hunt singled up the middle to score Lockwood and put the Bulls up 7-3.
The Bulls picked up another insurance run with two outs in the eighth after a walk by Carlin and singles by Brotons and Lockwood.
Fontanez came out to pitch the ninth and shut down the Mountaineers in order to win the first game of the series between the two BIG EAST powerhouses.
“Mentally, if he is okay, then he is in the ballgame. He is a guy who works really hard throughout starts, and throughout the week,” said Collazo.
The Bulls and Mountaineers face off again on Saturday at 7 p.m., then wrap up the series at 1 p.m. Sunday.