Make it four: Bulls knock off Notre Dame again
CLEARWATER -- After three one-run wins against Notre Dame last week, USF knew it'd be tough to pull off another one Tuesday in the opening round of the Big East tournament at Bright House Field.
Instead, the sixth-seeded Bulls beat the third-seeded Fighting Irish by six runs. USF (30-25) pounded 15 hits while holding Notre Dame to five in a dominating 9-3 victory, a game that ended at 1:25 a.m. Wednesday morning. Now the Bulls play second-seeded Cincinnati at 8 p.m. Wednesday, with the winner advancing to Friday's semifinals.
"Once we jumped up 6-2, I think they were like 'Oh, here we go again,'" first baseman Joey Angelberger said. "They're a tough team, third in the conference. They can beat any team in the conference, maybe just not the Bulls."
USF scored six runs in the second inning, getting two-run singles from seniors Charles Cleveland and Angelberger as seven consecutive Bulls reached base. Every Bulls starter had at least one hit in the game, and Angelberger and shortstop Addison Maruszak had three each.
Freshman pitchers Derrick Stultz and Matt Stull (5-2) stayed in control on the mound, holding Notre Dame in check after a two-run first. Stull allowed just two hits and one run in five innings of relief, striking out two in the ninth.
"He throws strikes, and in tournament play, you've got to have guys who throw strikes," coach Lelo Prado said. "He did a great job."
Morning rains had pushed the start of the tournament back two hours Tuesday, so the Bulls didn't start their game until 10:11 p.m., and didn't finish until more than three hours later. Losing would have meant coming back to play in an elimination game at 1 p.m. Wednesday -- less than 12 hours later -- but now the Bulls can wait until Wednesday night to face the Bearcats. Junior right-hander Daniel Thomas (2-3, 3.83) will start for the Bulls.
Cincinnati (37-19) took two of three games from the Bulls when the two teams played in Ohio in March. Before Tuesday's outburst, the Bulls had totaled nine runs in their six-game Big East tournament history. The Bulls won their first two games in last year's tournament but were then eliminated in back-to-back shutouts against Connecticut.