Nine-run inning rallies Bulls past Iowa
On the eve of what could be a nasty storm front in Tampa, USF brandished the art of storming back.
Handcuffed most of the night by Iowa right-handed starter Nick Gallagher, the Bulls exploded for nine eighth-inning runs off two Hawkeyes relievers in a 9-4 romp before a USF Baseball Stadium opening-night crowd of 1,113.
Spoto High alumnus Chris Chatfield's one-out RBI-single started the rally. Senior DH Luke Borders followed with a two-run triple that he nearly stretched into an inside-the-park homer.
Sophomore Cameron Montgomery provided the go-ahead RBIs with a two-run double. By inning's end David Villar and Kevin Merrell each had stroked two-run singles.
Six of the runs occurred with two out.
"I just think we stayed with it," said Bulls coach Mark Kingston, 3-0 on opening night at USF. "I told the guys we were gonna stay calm, we did, and it just started turning for us."
Gallagher, 8-3 with a 2.57 ERA last season, retired 14 Bulls in a row before allowing a leadoff walk to Villar to open the eighth inning. Gallagher exited after the walk; relievers Zach Daniels and Josh Martsching combined to allow eight of the runs in two-thirds of an inning.
USF, which hit .248 as a team last season, had loaded the bases off Gallagher with no out in the third, but failed to score as Borders struck out and Joe Genord grounded into a double play.
"The big thing I thought going into that (eighth) inning is, (Gallagher) had really good stuff, but we only had I think (four) strikeouts up to that point," said Kingston, whose club finished with 13 hits.
"That, I think, is one of the things that we have made progress on. We put a lot of balls in play hard early that didn't find holes. ... We just stayed with it."
While Gallagher flourished, Bulls right-handed senior Phoenix Sanders held the Hawkeyes mostly in check, allowing only two earned runs on five hits in five innings, striking out eight and walking one.
Converted starter Joe Cavallaro allowed a run off one hit in two relief innings, while burly freshman D.J. Roberts allowed a run off two hits and a walk in the eighth, as Iowa pushed its lead to 4-0.
Hard-throwing sophomore lefty Andrew Perez pitched a scoreless ninth.
"I thought (Sanders) was great," Kingston said. "What was great to see is that he matched up with a Friday night starter. Last year, maybe that's a game we would've lost. But we had much better offensive output than we normally would've had on a Friday night."