TAMPA — The University of South Florida got a measure of payback against Bethune Cookman College with 6-2 win, behind a stellar pitching effort from senior right-hander Michael Clarkson. The Wildcats trounced the Bulls 10-3 on March 1.
“This was a team that beat us up pretty good a month and a half ago,” said USF head baseball coach Mark Kingston. “To come back out and respond the way that we did, I was impressed.”
The Bulls got on the board first when Duke Stunkel Jr hit a sacrifice fly to left-centerfield. Garrett Zech scored from third and the Bulls led 1-0. Zech singled to lead off the inning and stole second base and advanced to third on a Wildcats throwing error.
In the second Chris Chatfield lined a single to left and scored Joe Genord for a 2-0 USF lead.
Bethune Cookman struck back quickly in the third when Demetrius Sims ripped a homer to left off Clarkson, cutting the deficit in half 2-1.
Chatfield come through again for the Bulls in the bottom the fourth with a single to right, scoring Genord again for a 3-1 lead.
The Wildcats tacked on a run on the seventh on a single by Nathan Bond to cut the Bulls lead to 3-2.
Clarkson finished the inning and his night with a career high seven strikeouts over seven innings of work. He allowed six hits and two runs, on 96 pitches.
“My change-up was pretty much on all night. It;s pretty effective against righties and lefties.” said Clarkson. “My goal every start is not to walk anyone, to throw as many first pitch strikes, and to try and go deep in the game,”
USF scored three more runs in the bottom half of the seventh and a 6-2 lead. Duke Stunkel scored on a wild pitch and two more on the base hit by Genord.
Andrew Perez, and Tommy Eveld combined for two perfect innings to nail down the win.
Luke Maglich, Genord and Chatfield each had two hits for the Bulls.
USF returns to American Conference play when the Bulls play at Houston this weekend.
The Bulls came into the game with a 1-8 record in mid-week games. Tonight six freshman started for USF and while there is still plenty of room to improve, the young Bulls are showing promising glimpses of what is to come.
The difference between now and the start of the season is remarkable. Andrew Perez continues to evolve as a reliever. Joe Genord has earned his way into the line-up and looks much more relaxed and confident.
Coco Montes does not look like a freshman at shortstop, quite the opposite actually.
Genord and Chris Chatfield, both freshman combined to drive in four of the Bulls six runs.
“I think we are getting more mature as we go. There’s going to be ups and downs. Even tonight we had a freshman moment, getting picked off at second base. It’s a slow process but we have to stick with it. Soon one run losses will turn into one run wins.” said USF Head Coach Mark Kingston.