By KY-SHON HEPBURN
Special to GoUSFBulls.com
TAMPA – The Bulls were one of only three teams to go undefeated, 3-0, in the Big East-Big Ten Challenge Sunday afternoon.
Derrick Stultz gave up three hits, one walk and four strikeouts to help propel USF past Minnesota, 4-3, in the final game of the challenge in St. Petersburg.
“I was nervous at first but 3-0 is a great start,” said Stultz.
Daniel Rockhold reached first base on an error made by Minnesota’s third baseman Kyle Geason in the first inning. James Ramsay hit a double to move both runners into scoring position, and Todd Brazeal followed with a two-run double to bring in both runners and give the Bulls a 2-0 lead.
Chad Taylor singled in the second inning to continue the hot start for the Bulls. Blake Sydeski grounded out and moved Taylor into scoring position. Alex Mendez walked and Rockhold followed with a two-out RBI single to increase the lead to 3-0.
Junior shortstop Taylor honored Lee Roy Selmon by wearing his No. 63 jersey. Each player on the team will have an opportunity to honor the former USF Athletic Director this season by wearing his jersey.
“It’s special, you know what that number means, you go out there and give it all you got."
Starting pitcher Andrew Barbosa struck out three of the first five batters he faced through two innings then he walked two batters in a row before Stultz came in to relieve him in the bottom of the third inning. This was Stultz's first appearance in a game in over two years after coming back from a shoulder injury.
Minnesota’s Kurt Schlangen and Andy Henkemeyer hit back-to-back RBI singles and Kyle Geason followed with a hard shot that started a double play before a wild throw allowed another run to score and the Golden Gophers tied the score at 3 in the third inning.
Buddy Putnam and Matt Hart walked in the third inning before freshman Blake Sydeski got an RBI single on his first hit as a Bull, giving USF a 4-3 lead.
Senior pitcher Andrew Loynaz came in during the fifth inning with two runners on the corners for Minnesota and two outs. Loynaz threw three pitches before striking out Dan Olinger to maintain USF’s 4-3 lead.
USF’s pitchers combined for nine strikeouts.
“That's what we came here to do, to win three games and I’m really pleased with our pitching staff,” said head coach Lelo Prado.
The game officially ended in the seventh inning due to Minnesota having travel constraints.
“Overall I’m very pleased, we have something to build on,” said Prado.
The Bulls look to get their fourth straight win in their home opener on Wednesday at 7 p.m., when they face North Florida at the USF baseball stadium.