Breathing room: Big win for USF baseball
We said this going in about USF baseball: The Bulls may not sweep, but they don't get swept, either.
After dropping a doubleheader to first-place St. John's on Saturday, the Bulls bounced back with a crucial 9-2 win Sunday, keeping them in seventh place in the Big East standings, with a magic number of two to clinch a spot in the conference tournament in Clearwater.
USF is 11-13 in league play, which ties them with Villanova, which got a 2-1 win against Rutgers (10-14). USF has the tiebreaker over both schools, so for the Bulls to miss the tournament, Rutgers would have to win two games more than USF wins in the final weekend of regular season, and Villanova would have to win one more game than USF. None of the three has it easy, as the Bulls host second-place Notre Dame, Rutgers plays at fourth-place Louisville and Villanova plays host to St. John's. Can Lelo Prado's old school help make it easier for him?
So the simple version: Any combination of two, whether they be Bulls wins or Rutgers losses, locks up a spot for USF. The Bulls could clinch a berth Thursday night. To miss the cut, the Bulls would have to get swept and see Rutgers win two games, or have the Bulls win only one and Rutgers pull off the sweep; furthermore, Villanova would have to win one more than USF in the final weekend.
Sunday's heroes? Freshman Derrick Stultz got the complete-game win, holding St. John's to two runs. That he gave up eight hits speaks to his poise in pitching well with runners on the bases. The Bulls only led 3-2 entering the ninth, but struck for six runs on five hits, the biggest being 2-run singles by Stephen Hunt and Trey Manz. As we said, a big, big win for the Bulls and their season.