Tampa Bay Sports Day

USF Bulls Drop 12-Inning Decision to Florida Gators

FILE Photo

GAINESVILLE – In the season’s longest game of the year, the University of South Florida baseball team was defeated by Florida in a 12-inning battle, 5-1.

“The way we played tonight and the way we have played all year has proven that we’re a resilient bunch, so we’ll be ready to go tomorrow. It was a hard-fought game, but we battled, had good at bats, the bullpen was outstanding, just a tough one to lose,” said USF head coach Mark Kingston

The top seed and host in the Gainesville Regional Gators (44-16) advance to Sunday’s championship game. The second-seeded Bulls (42-18) will play Bethune-Cookman in the elimination game. 

It was a pitcher’s duel through the first two innings, as just one combined hit was allowed. But lightning struck near the campus and a 38-minute weather delay ensued. After the break in action, redshirt-freshman Shane McClanahan was pulled and replaced by redshirt-senior Ryan Valdes, who got three-straight outs to strand a man at second.

The Gators were able to strike first with a single to left in the fourth, scoring a runner from second. But USF knotted things up in the fifth when sophomore Joe Genord got on and scored on a Duke Stunkel Jr. single.

Both teams had runners on from there, but junior righty Alex Faedo was stellar for Florida and the USF bullpen was lights out, taking the game into extras.

With the game in the 12th inning, the Gators got the lead-off man aboard off sophomore closer Andrew Perez. Perez tossed to first for a pick-off attempt, but the throw sailed over the head of Genord, allowing pinch runner Blake Reese to advance to third.

Genord threw the ball to third to nab Reese, but his throw went high allowing Florida to take a 2-1 edge. The Gators notched a few more hits in the frame and plated three additional runs to take a 5-1 lead into the bottom half.

Closer Michael Byrne completed his 5.0 inning relief effort and handed the Bulls a hard-fought, yet difficult defeat.

USF NOTES: The Bullpen of Perez, Valdes and junior Joe Cavallaro combined for 9.1 innings and seven strikeouts….Cavallaro allowed just two hits and struck out two. Valdes allowed three hits and one run and Perez allowed just two hits but was credited with three earned runs. He tossed a season-high 63 pitches…Stunkel Jr. went 3-for-5 with a RBI. He now has seven hits in the regional…Genord reached base four times even though he went 1-for-3. He walked, was hit by a pitch, singled and reached on a wild pitch after a strike three swinging…All 15 of the game’s hits were singles.