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May 3, 2013

USF Wins Marathon Game in South Bend

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The USF Bulls gutted out another marathon win in South Bend, 8-2 in 19 innings over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Friday night. James Ramsay hit an RBI single in the top of the 19th inning to break a 2-2 tie to help the Bulls outlast the Fighting Irish in the longest game in USF program history.

Senior Steven Leasure gave the Bulls three scoreless innings and nailed down the game to give USF the victory. The USF bullpen allowed just nine hits and struck out eight batters in 12 innings of relief. The Bulls had three relievers; Janick Serralonga, Adrian Puig and Leasure throw at least three innings of scoreless relief in the effort.

The win over Notre Dame is the tenth straight conference win for USF; the Bulls have not lost a Big East game since March 30th at Georgetown. Senior Jimmy Falla went 4-9 with a run scored in the victory.

Notre Dame put up some fight in the 19th inning, but it didn't prove to be enough. Leasure got Phil Mosey to fly out to Ramsay in center field with a runner on first base for the third out of the 19th inning to end the game.

After eight straight scoreless innings, the Bulls finally broke through in the 19th inning. Kyle Teaf struck out for what would've been the second out of the inning, but reached second on a two-base throwing error by Notre Dame catcher Ricky Sanchez. Teaf advanced to third on Alex Mendez's single to left field and scored the go ahead run a batter later on Ramsay's seeing-eye single to center field, giving USF a 3-2 lead. The Bulls weren't done, Falla loaded the bases with a single to right field. Chris Norton reached on a fielder's choice on a ground ball back to the mound that Fighting Irish reliever Donnie Hissa threw home to retire Mendez. Two more runs would score after Anthony Diaz singled back to the mound and Notre Dame committed an error, giving USF a 5-2 lead. Bulls' desiginated hitter, Kyle Copak would blow the game wide open with a two-RBI double to give USF a five run, 7-2 lead. Zac Gilcrease tacked on one more for the Bulls with an RBI single to center field to extend USF's lead to 8-2.

Notre Dame led just about wire to wire; the Fighting Irish held a 2-0 lead heading into the top of the eighth inning. USF rallied with a Mendez, two-RBI double to knot the game up a 2-2 heading to the Fighting Irish eighth.

USF freshman Jimmy Herget was sensational as usual. The Robinson High School product pitched seven innings, allowing two runs, one earned on three hits while striking out six and walking two batters. The Bulls' righty has now allowed just four earned runs in 42.2 innings in Big East play.

Leading 1-0 heading into the seventh, Notre Dame would add some insurance. Charlie Markson started off the inning with a single to center and was sacrificed to second. After Connor Biggio struck out, pinch hitter Marc Hudgins plated a run with an RBI single to center field, giving the Fightin Irish a 2-0 lead.

Notre Dame took an early lead in the third inning. After a throwing error charged to USF's Teaf allowed Lane Richards to reach, Forrest Johnson was hit by a pitch and Frank DeSico drew a walk to load the bases. The Fighting Irish took a 1-0 lead on Zak Kutsulis's RBI sacrifice fly to center field that plated Richards.

Friday night's 19-inning marathon was the longest game in D-1 baseball this year and spanned nearly five-and-a-half hours. The contest was USF's sixth extra-inning game in its last 11 matchups. The Bulls have now won seven-straight extra-inning games and are 7-3 in extras this season. The USF win coupled with victories from both Louisville and Pittsburgh keeps the Bulls in sole possession of first place int he Big East. Currently, USF is a game ahead of the second-place panthers and two games ahead of third-place Louisville.

Next up, USF and Notre Dame will continue their series on Saturday night at 2:05 pm in South Bend, Indiana. USF will start left-handed junior Nick Gonzalez against Notre Dame's Dan Slania.



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