Tampa Bay Sports Day

USF Bulls Hold Early Lead Before No. 1 UF Rallies for Win

GAINESVILLE, Fla – The University of South Florida baseball team (21-27) led No. 1 Florida (41-8) for 5 ½ innings on Tuesday night before the top-ranked Gators rallied late for the 11-4 win at McKethan Stadium.

USF plated three runs early off Florida starter, Scott Moss.

“I thought Scott threw the ball fine. I don’t think his line was indicative of how he threw the ball,” said Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “Some unfortunate things happened there in the first, but I thought he battled. It’s probably the best he’s thrown all year. He didn’t walk anybody and battled through some adversity.”

Infielder Kevin Merrell led USF offensively with a season-high tying three hits, a walk, a run scored, and an RBI. Catcher Joe Genord also matched a career high with three hits.

Two Gators — newcomer Jonathan India (2-for-4, 3 runs) and sophomore Peter Alonso (3-for-4, 2 runs) — paved the way offensively with multi-hit games. . Alonso, who ranks second on the team in career multi-hit games and leads UF in RBIs (47), registered his 27th multi-hit outing and lengthened his team-leading eight-game hit streak. Freshman Deacon Liput also played a key factor as he and Alonso tallied three RBIs apiece on the night.

The Bulls surged ahead early thanks in part to a three-run first inning. USF loaded the bases with nobody out and went up on a fielder’s choice from first baseman Duke Stunkel Jr. The Bulls then tacked on more runs with RBI singles from infielder David Villar and Genord.

Down 3-0, the No. 1 Gators responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first.

USF starting pitcher Michael Clarkson then settled down, inducing a double play to post a scoreless second inning, and then retiring nine batters in a row.

Leading by a run, the Bulls added to their 3-2 edge in the sixth. Outfielder Cameron Montgomery led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and was brought home on a Merrell run scoring single to left-center field.

Trailing 4-2, the Gators fought back again with two runs in the home half of the sixth but Clarkson stopped the scoring with an inning-ending strikeout.

Clarkson pitched 6.0 innings in the no decision, allowing four runs (two earned) on three hits.

Even at four, Florida claimed their first lead with a six-run seventh inning. The Gators also added a run in the eighth for the seven run victory.

Reliever Garrett Bye incurred his first career loss in the defeat. Outfielder Garrett Zech also matched his career best with two hits.

USF returns to conference play with a three-game weekend series at No. 21 East Carolina beginning on Friday.