CLEARWATER — USF jumped out to a 7-0 lead, then gave up six runs in the fifth and saw Connecticut finish the rally for an 8-7 win on a walkoff wild pitch at the Big East baseball tournament Thursday at Bright House Field.
USF (36-21) must beat Rutgers today in the double-elimination tournament and the Huskies twice on Saturday to earn a spot in Sunday's final. UConn, swept by the Bulls in the regular season, gets today off and needs just one win Saturday to make the final.
The ninth began with an error on a line drive to USF rightfielder Anthony Diaz, putting Stanley Paul on second base. With one out, Paul got to third on a wild pitch, and the Bulls intentionally walked the bases loaded. Reliever Jordan Strittmatter threw a wild pitch, and Paul scored without a throw.
The Bulls led 2-0 in the fourth when they scored four runs on three straight two-out doubles. Alex Mendez brought in two, then scored on a double by James Ramsay, who came in on a double by Jimmy Falla for a 6-0 lead.
USF led 7-0, and starter Nick Gonzalez was cruising until the fifth inning, when he loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter. Billy Ferriter brought in two runs with a single. Then T.J. Mazzilli brought in another run, and two came in on a Vinny Siena single misplayed by Ramsay in centerfield.
UConn tied it in the eighth inning on Jon Testani's sac fly off Strittmatter.
Top seed eliminated
CLEARWATER — Louisville entered the tournament with a 16-game winning streak. But the regular-season champs made an abrupt exit with their second loss in two days, 9-1 to Rutgers.
"Sometimes in baseball, you get your butt kicked," Cardinals coach Dan McDonnell said.
Louisville, which lost 3-2 in 12 innings to Connecticut on Wednesday, finished the tournament without using Jeff Thompson, the Big East pitcher of the year. Thursday's starter, Chad Green, gave up eight earned runs in two starts against Rutgers but a combined seven in his seven other Big East starts.
Notre Dame 5, Pitt 3: The Irish moved into Saturday's semifinals. The Panthers committed two errors that contributed to three unearned runs. And it has dropped five of six games while sitting on the NCAA bubble. Coach Joe Jordano said his team must keep its focus on the next game and nothing else. "To start thinking about things that we have no control over just adds to the mental clutter we can't have right now," said Jordano, whose team faces Seton Hall in an elimination game today. "We have to keep it fresh and clear their minds, get a good night's sleep and try to come back and play good baseball (today)."
Seton Hall 7, St. John's 2: Greg Terhune's complete game helped the Pirates oust the Red Storm. Seton Hall got three hits from Ryan Sullivan and Chris Chiaradio and rallied from a 2-0 deficit, scoring in six different innings. "That's the way we've been playing all year long. We say 'linking up the lineup,' and guys did a really nice job of that," Seton Hall coach Rob Sheppard said. "We were able to put hits together, ran the bases aggressively, and we made things happen."