TAMPA, Fla. – David Villar’s walk-off single in the 10th inning gave No. 24 USF a 5-4 American Athletic Conference series win over East Carolina Saturday night at USF Baseball Stadium. With the win, the Bulls improved to 36-10 overall and 11-6 in league play while the Pirates fell to 24-23 and 4-13.
Joe Cavallaro (4-1) picked up the win tossing 1.1 innings of scoreless relief with two strikeouts. Starter Shane McClanahan allowed two runs (both earned) on five hits with a walk and struck out a career-high 13 batters in seven innings. Ryan Valdes was touched for two runs (both earned) on three hits with a walk in 1.2 frames.
Ryan Ross (0-2) took the loss allowing one run (earned) on a hit, which came to the only batter he faced on the night. Trey Benton gave up four runs (all earned) on eight hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings. Jacob Wolfe faced three batters working two-thirds of an inning with one strikeout, while Sam Lanier retired all 11 batters he faced (3.2 IP) with six strikeouts out of the bullpen. Matt Bridges worked two-thirds of an innings allowing one hit, walking two and striking out one.
Kevin Merrell led the Bulls going 4-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored, including the game winner in the 10th. Joe Genord and Villar each added a pair of hits as the three combined eight of USF’s 11 hits.
Travis Watkins collected three hits which included his game-tying home run in the ninth inning. Eric Tyler, who extended his on-base streak to 33 games, was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer while Bryce Harman was 2-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored.
How It Happened:
With the game tied at four-all in the 10th inning, Villar’s two-out bases loaded single to right field scored Merrell for the game-winning run. Merrell led off the inning with a triple to right center off Ross before Bridges entered the game and intentionally walking Duke Stunkel and Luke Borders. Bridges struck out Genord for the first out and got Cameron Montgomery to fly out to center setting up the battle with Villar.
Merrell gave USF an early 1-0 lead hitting a leadoff home run to start the game over the right field wall, his sixth of the season.
The Bulls scratched across three runs on four hits in the fifth to extend their lead to 4-0. Garrett Zech double with one out and came home on Coco Montes two-base hit to left center. Stunkel ground out to Benton pushing across Montes and Genord’s RBI single through the left side plated Merrell.
Tyler’s fifth home run of the season pulled ECU within two, 4-2, in the sixth inning. Harman singled to start the frame and came around on Tyler’s two-run blast to left field.
Harman’s third home run of the season made it a one run game, 4-3, in the eighth inning before Watkins’ seventh home run of the year in the ninth knotted the game at four-all.
ECU and USF will conclude the three-game series on Sunday, May 7 with a 1 p.m. (ET) scheduled first pitch.