Staying alive: Bulls beat W.Va. 12-5
Here's the game story for Friday's paper from correspondent Joe Rienzi, who covered Thursday night's USF-West Virginia game in Clearwater ...
CLEARWATER — With its season on the line, the South Florida baseball team picked up a win Thursday night when it needed it the most.
The sixth-seeded Bulls (31-26) jumped out to an early lead and defeated the seventh-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers 11-5 to stay alive in the Big East tournament at Bright House Field.
The win means USF will play No. 2 seed Cincinnati on Friday at 1 p.m., meeting the Bearcats for the second time in three days. The Bulls lost 11-1 in seven innings Wednesday. In order for the Bulls to advance, they need to beat the Bearcats twice Friday.
“Them and Louisville are the two hottest teams in the conference,” USF coach Lelo Prado said. “They beat us last time, and we’ve got to step up or they’ll beat us again.”
USF started quickly, with senior first baseman Joey Angelberger hitting a three-run home run on the first pitch he saw in the first inning.
“We got off to a slow start offensively last night, so to come out and get three in the first was big,” Angelberger said. “It was a huge firestarter.”
After not allowing a hit and striking out four in the first three innings, freshman pitcher Randy Fontanez allowed three hits and three runs in the fourth, allowing the Mountaineers to cut into USF’s four-run lead. He finished the game with six strikeouts and one walk in six innings of work.
“Randy is a competitor,” Prado said. “He goes out every night and competes. He’s getting a lot of experience that will be valuable for the next couple of years.”
The Bulls answered back in the fifth, as freshman Junior Carlin and junior Chris Rey scored to give USF a 6-3 lead. USF also scored one in the sixth and three in the seventh. Carlin was hit in the back with a pitch in the second inning and was taken out of the game in the seventh during his at-bat. For the night, he was 2-of-3 with two doubles, a walk and a strikeout.
Including Wednesday's 11-1 loss, the Bulls are 1-3 against the Bearcats this season. In order to advance, USF's players know they have a lot to work on to avoid a fate similar to that of Wednesday.
“We’ve got to come out intense, show some intensity and play like we want to win,” Angelberger said. “We have to play a good game of baseball and leave it all out on the field.”