The USF Bulls have their pitching to thank for a marathon victory over the Toledo Rockets. USF used three pitchers over 13 innings to get the 4-3 victory.
USF jumped out to an early lead thanks to senior designated hitter Luke Borders. Borders laced a double down the LF field line to score shortstop Kevin Merrell. Sophomore third baseman David Villar would drive home Borders with a double to give USF the 2-0 lead after one.
Senior Phoenix Sanders got the start for USF and had his typical impressive numbers (6.1IP 7H, 3ER, 1BB, 9K) .But the Rockets were able to get to him, scoring in the third inning without having the ball leave the infield. The Rockets would notch another run in the top of the fourth but USF would answer in the bottom half of the inning to retake the lead.
After throwing 91 pitches through six innings, head coach Mark Kingston decided to send Sanders back out for the 7th inning. Toledo quickly got a run back, and forced Sanders from the game. Kingston would summon junior pitcher Joe Cavallaro from the bullpen to take care of the rest of the inning.
Cavallaro was masterful in relief, throwing 4.2 innings with 6 strikeouts and surrendered only one hit. Coming in for relief is a new thing for Cavallaro, who was a starter until this season. But Kingston said he is adapting nicely.
“His stuff is just better in short spurts,” Kingston said. “When he can just rear back and fire he’s got very good stuff, that’s why you’re seeing him have so much success this year.”
Cavallaro said although he entered in a high pressure situation, the stress doesn’t matter to him.
“It’s baseball, it’s a game,” said Cavallaro after the game. “You have to go out and compete and do the best you can and live with it.”
The Bulls were only able to manage one hit after the fourth inning and only won thanks to a fielding error and Toledo pitcher Joey Prechtel walking the bases loaded after that. The deciding play was a walk on a full count to Borders which brought in the winning run.
“We could have lost that game about three times,” Kingston said. “We didn’t give in and we found a way to win.”
This is the type of baseball the Bulls have been playing all season long. Pitching and defense have been making up for the lack of consistency at the plate.
“Our pitching and defense complement each other,” Kingston said. “Until we get our hitting figured out and get those guys going, we’re going to have to win games with pitching and defense.”
The Bulls are back in action Saturday night at 6:30 p.m., looking to win the series over the Rockets.