The USF Bulls stormed back from a 4-0 deficit in the 8th inning to defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes by a final score of 9-4.
Senior pitcher Phoenix Sanders got the start for the Bulls and although he gave up a run in the first inning, he settled down and was able to effectively handle the Hawkeyes lineup for the remaining five innings he was in the game.
Sanders (5IP, 8K, 1BB, 5H, and 2ER) earned the praise of his head coach, Mark Kingston after the game.
“What was great to see is that he matched up with a Friday night starter,” Kingston said. “He kept them off balance enough and he kept us in the game. “
After Sanders exited the game, the USF bullpen gave up two more runs, giving the Hawkeyes a 4-0 lead.
For the vast majority of the night, the Bulls bats were sound asleep. After Iowa’s starting pitcher Nick Gallagher worked out of a bases loaded jam in the third, he sat down 14 straight USF batters.
After surrendering a leadoff walk to sophomore third baseman David Villar in the 8th inning, Gallagher (7IP, 4K, 1ER, 6H &1BB) was replaced by sophomore Zach Daniels. That’s when the Bulls bats woke up.
After SS Kevin Merrell legged out a fielder’s choice to avoid a double play, sophomore outfielder Chirs Chatfield put USF’s first run on the board with an RBI single.
Senior designated hitter Luke Borders came to the plate next and drove in two more runs on a triple to the wall in center field, but he was thrown out trying for an inside the park home run.
A two out walk issued to sophomore first baseman Joe Genord prompted Kingston to put speed on the base paths in the form of pinch runner Garrett Zech. Zech immediately attempted to swipe second and forced a throw down. The throw sailed into the outfield and enabled Zech to reach third.
After junior outfielder Duke Stunkel was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded for sophomore Cam Montgomery. Montgomery stroked a ball into right field for a double, giving USF a 5-4 lead which they would never relinquish.
“That’s probably one of the best innings of baseball that I’ve been a part of,” Montgomery said.
The Bulls added four more runs in the bottom of the 8th to widen their lead to 9-4. Sophomore Andrew Perez came in to close the game in the top of the 9th, facing the final three Iowa batters.
The sophomore laden lineup showed maturity in the later parts of this game. Kingston said he thinks his this was a game that last year’s team might not win.
“These kids are growing up and getting better,” Kingston said. “You have to work hard, you have to have the result and then the confidence grows.
Kingston also officially announced sophomore Andrew Perez will be the closer for foreseeable future.
“Right now Perez is our closer,” Kingston said. “We wanted to get Andrew out there in that role for the first time, with a lead as the closer.”
The Bulls are back at it tomorrow to try and take the series from the Hawkeyes. The game has been moved up to noon for weather concerns. The projected starters are freshman Shane McClanahan for USF and senior C.J. Eldred for Iowa.