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USF at North Florida | May 6 | Jacksonville, Fla.
TAMPA – The University of South Florida Bulls finished their final home BIG EAST game the way they started the season, with a win. The Bulls completed the series with a 8-5 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats which improved their home BIG EAST record to 11-1.
USF improved their record to 30-17 overall and 17-4 in BIG EAST play, while Cincinnati falls to 24-21 overall and 11-10 in the BIG EAST.
"We just have to keep going," said head coach Lelo Prado. "I'm a little disappointed in just taking two out of three, but we're in first place and we're two games up with two weekends to play."
Junior Shawn Sanford improved his season record to 5-2, while only allowing two earned runs after the Bulls committed three errors in the first three frames. Sanford gave up five hits, and walked five of his batters faced in n7.0 innings.
The Bearcats’ pitcher of record was the starting left-handed pitcher Brian Garman, who falls to 4-6 on the year. He gave up eight hits, five earned runs and three walks in UC’s 21st loss of the year.
Sophomore Junior Carlin was 3-for-5 at the plate with a triple while sophomore Ryan Lockwood and freshman Daniel Rockhold each had a pair of hits, including a double, in the game.
Junior Joe Cole provided relief in final two innings, striking out four consecutive batters, including three in the eighth with runners on first and third.
"Cole did a great job in the eighth," said Prado. "The game was still in a situation of a big hit here or a big hit there and they win the game. He did a great job all weekend."
After Cincinnati took the early two-run lead in the first, the Bulls offense exploded in the fifth, scoring seven runs from seven hits, five of which were with two outs.
The seven runs was the most scored in one inning of conference play, surpassing the six runs the Bulls scored in the eighth inning against Villanova on April 18.
In the fifth inning, Peter Brotons and Ryan Lockwood connected on consecutive base hits to lead off the inning. With two outs, Chris Rey hit an RBI single that started a RBI base hit trend for the Bulls.
After Rey’s RBI single, three more players followed suit when sophomore Junior Carlin, freshman Sam Mende, and senior Trey Manz all three also collected RBI singles which broke the three run deficit and gave the Bulls a 5-3 lead.
The Bulls offense did not stop there, as senior Mike Consolmagno collected a single and Brotons stepped back to the plate for the Bulls. Brotons hit a dribbler to the Bearcat pitcher, who threw the ball away, plating two more runs for the Bulls, capping USF’s seven-run inning.
Following the offensive onslaught, the Bulls’ pitching staff held the Cincinnati bats to two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out seven Bearcat batters in the final four innings.
The Bulls finished their home conference slate on Sunday afternoon with an 11-1 mark in BIG EAST play. The Bulls have not lost a home BIG EAST series since the Bulls dropped two early games in a series against Louisville last season on the weekend of April 11 to April 13.
The Bulls travel to Jacksonville on Wednesday to face North Florida. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. on May 6.
Following the game the Bulls will go on the road to Indiana where they will take on the University of Notre Dame.
The Bulls finished with the best home conference record since the 1989 season, when USF finished 9-0 in the Sun Belt Conference.
With the win on Sunday afternoon the Bulls recorded their 30rh win of the season. It is the 22nd time in program history the Bulls baseball program has recorded 30+ wins.
The Bulls recorded their 17th conference win, which is the third highest in program history. With six conference games remaining, the Bulls are only three games from tying the program’s conference win mark, which was set in 1996, when the Bulls went 20-4. The second most was set a year later when the Bulls notched an 18-8 mark in Conference USA play.
The USF pitching staff collected a combined 11 strikeouts on the afternoon, seven from Sanford and four from Cole.
The seven runs was the most scored in one inning of conference play this season, surpassing the six runs the Bulls scored in the eighth inning against Villanova on April 18.
The Bulls scored four runs on four consecutive RBI singles in the bottom half of the fifth inning, leading to a seven-run frame.