TAMPA — The University of South Florida hit four home runs to power past No 25 Michigan State University 7-5. The win gave the Bulls a series win against the Spartans, the first against a ranked opponent since since sweeping No. 26 Pittsburgh, a three game series in 2013. The Spartans are ranked No 25 by Baseball America.
Spartans left-fielder Marty Beechna led off the game with a double and later scored on a sacrifice bunt to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead
After missing the last four games due to illness, Levi Borders came back with a three-run blast in the first inning and gave the Bulls a 3-1 lead. Chris Chatfield followed with an exciting inside the park home run for a 4-1 lead.
The Spartans answered back in the second with two-runs on a USF fielding error to make it 4-3, but the Cavallaro ended further damage in the inning with a strikeout.
Coco Montes led off the home half of the inning with his first career home run, a long blast left-center and a 5-3 lead.
Spartan starter junior right-hander Walter Borkavich pitched one batter into the second and allowed five earned runs on six hits.
The home run barrage continued for USF when Joe Genord launched a solo shot in the fourth and the Bulls had a 6-3 lead. Montes followed and added his second hit of the day and scored on a triple by Kevin Merrell, his first as a Bull for a 7-3 lead.
Joe Cavallaro battled through five innings for USF, yielding three runs, one earned. He walked four and struck out four on 100 pitches.
With freshman Dylan Burns on in relief for USF, Michigan State added a two runs in the sixth on three doubles by Bechhina, Jordan Zimmerman an Chad Roskelly.
Freshman Andrew Perez followed with with 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief, retiring the last 7 batters he faced in order.
Bulls closer Tommy Eveld pitching for the second game in as many days came on in the ninth to preserve the win, but not before the Spartans loaded the bases with a hit and two walks. A lazy fly ball to right field by Bechina ended the contest and the Bulls walked off series winners.
“We are making progress and it was a good series for us,” said USF head baseball coach Mark Kingston. “After losing convincingly Friday night, we could have just let it affect our confidence…the guys played really well last night, and we played a really good ballgame today.
Coach Kingston frequently talks of pitching and defense as being the foundation for building a good program. However, if we were in a restaurant, be sure he would an entree of speed and power.
There is nothing quite like changing the scoreboard with one swing of the bat and the Bulls were able to do that that four times today.
I’m sure he would ask for seconds.
“We want to have a lineup that’s dynamic, with speed and power. We had that today , no doubt about it.Three of the four home runs were hit by freshman which is encouraging and Levi hit the big three run homer, which gave us a big lift,” said Kingston.
Baseball fans often discuss what is the most exciting play to watch in baseball. A triple and an inside the park home-run are near the top of the list.
We got to see both today with Merrell (triple) and Chatfield (home run).
I vote the inside the park homer, that was fun.
As a hitter you can fail seven out of 10 times and be judged a success. As a pitcher you hope to take your best stuff out to the mound in each start and give your team a chance to win.
Joe Cavallaro picked up the win and probably didn’t have his best stuff today, but what he did have was a will to compete with what he had. That is not something you can generally coach into a player, kudos to him.
And while we are talking about players who compete with maximum effort, lets mention Tommy Eveld again. Look for a feature article on him soon. Its long overdo.
The Bulls finished a busy week 3-2 and were an out away from being 4-1. Props to USF Pitching Coach Billy Mohl for working his magic all week.
They will travel next to Ft. Myers to take on Florida Gulf Coast University on Tuesday before returning home next weekend for a series against Dartmouth with American Conference games on the horizon.