TAMPA — Casey Mulholland pitched a complete game, defensively the Bulls turned in two big double plays to halt UCF rallies, and the USF offense backed up the performance with nine hits in a 4-2 win over the Knights in American Conference action at USF Baseball Stadium.
“Our kids battled today and we have to come out tomorrow and win the series. We have to keep battling.” said USF head coach Lelo Prado. “I’ll be honest with you, Casey and Jimmy Herget had a team meeting the other day and those two guys have been big leaders for us the last couple days, I’m proud of the way we competed and Casey was the story of the game.” Prado added.
After a scoreless first inning, UCF loaded the bases in the second with three consecutive singles, but Mulholland struck out Kam Gellinger and forced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
In the Bulls half of the inning Levi Borders doubled to the corner in left field and Luke Borders followed with a single to give the Bulls a 1-0 lead. Zac Gilcrease then lined a triple to right centerfield to make the score 2-0. Gilcrease scored on a wild pitch by Olson making it 3-0.
UCF struck back in the third with a two out RBI single by Erik Barber to score JoMarco Woods who singled to lead off the inning making the score 3-1.
Bulls senior first baseman Lawrence Pardo led off the fifth with a long home run to right field giving the Bulls a 4-1 lead. Levi Borders followed with a single up the middle chasing Knights starter Olson from the game.
“I knew I hit it good, I just wanted to help the team out anyway possible,” said Pardo.
Olson would finish his night pitching three innings plus two batters giving up four earned runs and striking out three. Joe Marotta came on in relief of Olson to end the inning striking out Nik Alfonso and pinch-hitter Hayden Kelly.
Knights shortstop Tommy Williams led off the seventh with a home run to left center field to cut the Bulls lead to 4-2. After Gellinger flied out to shortstop, Jordan Savinon followed with a walk. Woods doubled to right setting up runners on second and third with one out. Dylan Moore popped up to first and Derrick Salberg flied out to deep right field to end the threat.
Mulholland went out in the ninth having thrown over 100 pitches. After striking out the first two batters, UCF catcher ripped a double down the right field line, prompting a visit by Prado.
“I wasn’t going to pull him, I just wanted to settle him down a little” said Prado.
Mulholland was able to get Wood to pop out to first base for the complete game victory and finished with six strikeouts, allowing two earned runs. He walked one and threw 120 pitches.
“They are our rival and thats the way its supposed to be, I wanted to finish that one.” said Mulholland. It was a high energy game and we kind of expect that, its a good thing.”
“That’s UCF and South Florida , I hope they are ready and I hope we are , should be a great game tomorrow,” said Prado
The Bulls and Knights play the rubber game of the series tomorrow. Game time is 1PM