UConn collects 17 hits in 9-1 rout of Bulls
Seventh-seeded USF didn't necessarily need all the planets to align to make an improbable American Athletic Conference tournament run. Just its pitching staff.
But things got woefully out of alignment Thursday night at Bright House Field, and third-seeded Connecticut pounced for a 9-1 triumph in a winners bracket game. The Bulls (24-32) face No. 6 Memphis on Friday in a 3 p.m. elimination contest.
"Obviously it's gonna take resilience and we're gonna find out how much of that we have," said second-year coach Mark Kingston, who isn't certain who will get the ball this afternoon. "I'm hoping that our guys come out (Friday) to play really hard."
Effort wasn't an issue Thursday night. Efficiency was.
USF's pitchers combined to allow 17 hits and seven walks, and let the leadoff batter reach base in six innings. By contrast, Huskies freshman left-handed starter Tim Cate (7.1 IP, one run, four hits, nine strikeouts, one walk) mostly sparkled.
"He's an elite guy, there's no question," Kingston said. "He's every bit as good as their Friday guy (fellow lefty Anthony Kay), who may be a first-rounder."
Normal Bulls closer Tommy Eveld, making his first start in more than a year as a result of Kingston's staff shakeup, exited with apparent right arm discomfort after issuing a walk and double to open the top of the fifth. Kingston said Eveld was battling shoulder stiffness and was removed only as a precaution.
Right-hander Joe Cavallaro followed, allowing a two-run double to Bryan Daniello on his third pitch to give UConn a 3-1 lead. The Huskies tacked on another run in the fifth, then pulled away with three runs on as many hits and a walk in the sixth.
Eveld, a Jesuit High alumnus expected to be drafted next month, was charged with three earned runs on six hits in four-plus innings. He walked five, struck out three, and allowed the leadoff man to reach base in three of his four innings.
But he did emerge from a jam or two. With one out and the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, he struck out Huskies leadoff batter Jack Sundberg, then forced 3B Willy Yahn -- a .329 hitter coming in -- to fly out to center.
"He just wasn't quite as sharp early on as maybe we hoped, and he had to pitch out of trouble, but he was able to make some big pitches when we needed 'em," Kingston said. "It just wasn't quite good enough tonight."
C Joe Genord accounted for USF's only run with a second-inning solo homer into the bullpen beyond left field.