Last at-bat again: Bulls beat Irish in 16th
An hour or two longer than Lelo Prado might have hoped for, but he won't complain with the result: USF got an RBI single from freshman Junior Carlin to score Addison Maruszak in the bottom of the 16th, giving the Bulls a 3-2 win against Notre Dame in a game that matched the longest in USF history.
It's the second night in a row the Bulls have beaten Notre Dame in their final at-bat, after rallying for three runs in the ninth Thursday night. USF has a chance for its first Big East sweep of the season on Saturday afternoon, against the third-place team in the conference, no less. And the win puts the Bulls (28-25) three games over .500, which means even if they lose Saturday and go two-and-out in Clearwater next week, USF won't finish with a losing record.
Strong night for starter Randy Fontanez, who went eight innings and held Notre Dame to two runs, one earned. Stronger still for another freshman, Zach Pietrzyk, who pitched five scoreless innings of relief. A third freshman, Drew Malley, got his first career win. The bullpen combined for eight innings, giving up just three hits, a big boost of confidence in an area where the Bulls needed a lift. Always nice to fail to score a run for 12 innings in a row ... and still win.
USF, on the bubble for the conference tournament barely a day ago, is now 13-13 in league play, tying them with West Virginia for sixth place. So if the Bulls beat Notre Dame on Saturday and West Virginia loses at second-place Cincinnati -- certainly a possibility -- then USF would be the No. 6 seed, which would give them Notre Dame again on Tuesday. Then again, hard to beat a team four times in six days.
The length of the game matched a 2000 win against Cincinnati for the longest in the program's history, and that game was the second of a doubleheader. Looking through the record books, the 2006 team really liked extra innings -- two 13-inning games, a 12-inning game and three that went 11 ...