Bulls' season ends in wild 9-7 loss to Louisville
Guys, will have lots more on this in the morning -- wild finish to USF's season Friday night and into Saturday morning here at Bright House Field. ...
CLEARWATER – Down to its last strike of the season, USF rallied to tie top-seeded Louisville in the bottom of the ninth, only to see the two-time defending Big East champions prevail 9-7 with a two-run home run in the 11th.
The Bulls (26-32) trailed 7-1 before a 53-minute rain delay in the sixth inning, and came out of the rain a different team, rallying for four runs in the eighth, two on a home run by Clearwater’s Sam Mende.
Second baseman Luis Llerena, down 0-2 with two outs in the ninth and facing the last strike of the season, worked the count full, then sent a shot over the left-field wall to tie the game with his first home run of the year. Llerena said it was his first home run since his junior year in high school in 2006.
"Our guys fought hard, fought back, fought like crazy," coach Lelo Prado said. "Both games we lost, that's our season. That's tough to take."
Mende and Llerena had four hits each. Reliever Kevin Quackenbush, who had pitched five scoreless innings after the delay, came back out in the 11th, only to give up a two-run home run to Louisville’s Stewart Ijames, which ultimately ended the Bulls’ season.
"You've got to tip your hat to South Florida," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. "Those kids were playing for their season, and they didn't quit. You get down to the last strike off an All-American closer and tie it, again, I give Coach Prado and those guys a lot of credit. What makes us a special team is we handled their best blow. Where some teams could cave, we were able to weather the storm, regroup and win in extra innings."