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March 3, 2013
The Bulls brought the bats home with them from Orlando, posting 20 runs in the three games on 35 hits. USF is now averaging over five runs per game and hitting .294 as a team. Two out scoring was paramount in the Bulls' series against Toledo; USF scored 14 runs over the three games when there were two outs.
USF started its weekend off right with a 7-5 win on Friday. Bulls' starter Jimmy Herget got off to a rough start, giving up a run in the top of the first inning before settling down. The freshman turned in a stellar outing, throwing a career-high six innings allowing an earned run on four hits and striking out a career-high nine. The Bulls had a strong day at the plate, pushing across seven runs on 12 hits. Junior outfielder James Ramsay went 3-4 with RBI and a run scored and senior Chris Norton went 3-4 and scored three runs.
Saturday's game was the one that got away from the Bulls. Junior starter Nick Gonzalez got off to a rough start, allowing a run in each of the first two innings. Gonzalez would rebound, turning in a quality start, throwing five innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out six. USF would take the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning with a four run frame. Luke Maglich and Kyle Copak walked to start the frame, Zac Gilcrease laid down a sacrifice to move the runners to second and third. The Bulls would follow with four straight hits from Kyle Teaf, Alex Mendez, Ramsay and Jimmy Falla to score the four runs. Gonzalez would leave with a chance for the win, but USF was unable to hold on in the top of the seventh. Toledo scored three runs, two off Lawrence Pardo and the game winner, an RBI double off the bat of Rocket first baseman Wes White, off Mike Clarkson. Toledo would hold to win game two 5-4 behind right hander Adam Tyson's 4.2 innings of shutdown relief.
The Sunday rubber match provided some fireworks for the series finale. The Bulls entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing Toledo 8-3. Fall drew a walk to open the inning, followed by a base hit by Norton to put runners on first and second. After Austin Lueck struck out, freshman Levi Borders doubled to left to score Falla and Norton, bringing the Bulls within three. After an Anthony Diaz strike out, Nik Alfonso singled in Borders, brining the Bulls within two. Teaf and Mendez followed with singles to load the bases, putting the tying run at first with Ramsay at the plate. With a full count, and two outs, Ramsay tripled over the head of center fielder Ben Hammer to empty the bases and win.
The win should give the Bulls some momentum heading into the mid-week contest against the Eagles. One thing that has to be concerning to the Bulls is the pitching. In his third straight appearance, senior Joey Lovecchio struggled, allowing four runs in an inning-and-a-third against Toledo. Opponents continue to make contact against the transfer, totaling 20 hits in the nine innings Lovecchio has pitched and posting a .417 batting average against. If the Bulls are going to remain competitive in this season in conference play, they need Lovecchio to start pitching the way he did in the first half of last season when he posted a 7-1 record.
The Bulls have now won three of their last four and have an opportunity to get back to .500 on the season with a mid-week series sweep over Boston College on Tuesday and Wednesday.