Luke Maglich Leads Big Walk-Off Win for USF over UCF

TAMPA — University of South Florida senior Luke Maglich delivered his third walk off hit this season, a double in the bottom of the ninth, to give the Bulls a 4-3 win on the University of Central Florida at USF Baseball Stadium.

The win gave the Bulls their for American Conference series win of the season an USF has a chance to sweep the Knights on Sunday with the series finale slated at 12 PM.

Maglich finished the night with three hits, including a first inning home run, two doubles and three RBI.

As big as the game winner was, the defensive play Maglich made in the eighth inning was the kind of play that will go into Bulls baseball lore and forever be remembered by the 2,794 fans in attendance.

Maglich got the Bulls started early in the first inning when he crushed a two-run homer off the facing of the batting cages in right field. Kevin Merrell had led off the inning with an infield single.

Back to back hits with two outs produced the Bulls third run when Coco Montes doubled home Joe Genord in the second inning. Merrell then followed with his second hit, a single up the middle, scoring Montes for a 4-0 lead.

A hit and a throwing error plated the Knights first run 4-1. Another unearned run scored when Eli Putnam grounded out to second, and made it 4-2. An attempted steal of home ended the inning.

Ryan Crile led off the fourth with a home run to left and the Knights trailed 4-3. Two outs later Austin Griffin tied the game with another home run to left, 4-4. In the oddity of oddities both home runs bounced off USF left-fielder Chris Chatfield’s glove.

The two teams traded zeros over the next three innings.

Harrison Hukari left hander was solid in relief giving the Knights 3 2/3 innings of one hit shutout baseball.

Lawson finished his night giving the Bulls seven innings. He struck out 8 and scattered 5 hits. He surrendered four runs, two earned on 107 pitches, 69 for strikes.

With the game tied at four UCF loaded the bases in the eighth with one out. With two strikes Matthew Mika drove a sinking line drive into right field. A diving Maglich caught the ball, and quickly threw a strike to first baseman Duke Stunkel complete the double play and the inning was over.

“I thought it was a huge win for us,” said Maglich. “We got out to a big lead right away, we faced a lot of adversity and were able to hang in there. We found a way to get on in the ninth and the rest of it was history.”

“That was probably the play of the year. With the bases loaded, a diving play and to have the presence of mind to double up the guy at first base. One of the better plays Ive seen in a long time. A tremendous tremendous play,” said USF head coach Mark Kingston.

Merrell lined a single, his third hit of the night into center and stole second base. Knights reliever Trent Thompson walked Stunkel Jr. to set up a double play opportunity.

Maglich came to the plate and with two strikes drove a fly ball to left over the head of UCF left fielder Matt Diorio’s for the game-winning RBI double.

Game over.

Andrew Perez picked up his first win of the season with 1 2/3 innings of hitless relief. Thompson took the loss for UCF.

Game Notes:

Obviously Luke Maglich was the big hero tonight and it was nice to see a big crowd turn out to see the game. My hope is that many will return for future games.

The USF Baseball Program is on an upward track, and personally I think its the best ticket in town

Maglich is more than a star on the field.

Earlier this week he was named USF Scholar Athlete of the Year. I suspect his family and followers are just as proud of that. I know I am.

I counted no less than 12 radar guns as the pro scouts were out in force to watch Brandon Lawson pitch. His 83 strikeouts are the most in the American Athletic Conference this season and is among the leaders nationally in College Baseball. What did I say about the USF program again?

About the Author

Don Miller
Don is a lifelong baseball fan and that life is getting pretty long. He makes his living at home in New Port Richey, Florida. A Tampa native he served as a fantasy correspondent for ESPN for the Tampa Bay Rays, back when they were called the Devil Rays. He loves college baseball, Tampa sports and follows them both with unrivaled passion. Don is also a member of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and his work has been featured on a number of baseball, sports, business and financial venues.