Taylor Jenkins

USF wins 14th straight on walk-off homer

USF struggled to hold on to every lead they got on Sunday, but Joe Genord got the Bulls their 14th straight win with a walk-off blast.

The University of South Florida Bulls won in walk-off fashion in their third game against Valparaiso Crusaders on Sunday.

USF started the scoring off early when Duke Stunkel Jr. singled up the middle, giving the Bulls a 1-0 lead in the first, but the narrow lead wouldn’t last long.

Valparaiso would answer back with a pair of runs in the top of the third after their first three batters of the inning reached safely. Following a fly out, Valparaiso’s designated hitter, Jake Hansen, would keep it going with an RBI single before a passed ball brought around the second run for the Crusaders, but Strzelecki was able to stop the bleeding and escape the jam.

USF quickly took their lead back in the fourth though, blowing up for four more runs. Kevin Merrell and Coco Montes —players who are now regularly raking in conference honors this season— found gaps with an RBI single each before Luke Borders put a home run out to right and extended the Bulls’ lead to 5-2.

Valparaiso added another two and climbed out of their second hole of the game when their leadoff man, James Stea, worked a single off D.J. Roberts and tied the game at five.

Joe Genord stepped in the box to lead off the bottom of the ninth, already with a hit on the day. Genord —struggling early in the season but has started to find his stride along with the rest of the USF lineup— and on a 2-2 count lined a home run to left center, the deepest part of the park.

“It feels good to do it, I was thinking it going up. Would it happen? Probably not, but it did so it’s just a good overall feeling. My first [walkoff] here at college,” said Genord.

The Bulls moved to 15-1 on the season and Sunday’s win was their 14th straight, the second longest active streak in the nation.

“I just thought our guys did a good job today of finding a way to win,” said USF head coach Mark Kingston. “At the end of the day, they can’t always be easy and when you do get yourself in close games your bullpen needs to keep you within striking distance, and then our offense took over there with Joe’s big homer.”

USF will play four games against Harvard next weekend, with a double header on Saturday. The series will kick off on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

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