CLEARWATER — With Tulane runners on first and second and two out in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday, USF's dugout watched as burly American Athletic Conference co-player of the year Hunter Williams' fly to left went deep.
Just not quite as deep as the Bulls' collective exhale, when leftfielder Duke Stunkel Jr. snagged the ball to secure his team's 7-6 victory in the opening round of the AAC tournament at Spectrum Field.
Rallying twice from three-run deficits, the No. 4-seeded Bulls (41-15) got home runs from Spoto High alumnus Chris Chatfield and sophomore third baseman David Villar and an ensemble effort from four pitchers to advance to Thursday's 7 p.m. winners' bracket game against either East Carolina or UCF.
"At the end of the day," USF coach Mark Kingston said, "we just got one more big hit."
USF trailed 3-0 when Chatfield sent a low Corey Merrill fastball over the centerfield fence, well beyond the 400-foot marker. It trailed 6-5 entering the eighth, when leadoff hitter Kevin Merrell singled and scored on Stunkel's double.
Stunkel later scored the go-ahead run when Joe Genord's sharp grounder to third was misplayed by senior Hunter Hope.
UM TRIUMPHS: Joe Gomez's RBI single in the 13th lifted Miami past Georgia Tech 6-5 in the opener of the ACC tournament in Louisville, Ky. The sixth-seeded Hurricanes (30-26) face third-seeded Wake Forest on Thursday.
TENNIS: Virginia captured its third straight NCAA men's championship, beating ACC rival North Carolina 4-2 in Athens, Ga., in a final that was forced inside because of rain. The women's final between No. 1 Florida and No. 6 Stanford was held later.
BASKETBALL: Scoring leader Trevon Bluiett will stay at Xavier for his senior season instead of entering the NBA draft. UCLA center Thomas Welsh and reserve guard Aaron Holiday also withdrew their names from the draft.
GOLF: Stanford beat Baylor 3-2 in the women's championship quarterfinals in Sugar Grove, Ill., then led Arizona State before the semifinals were halted by darkness.
Information from Times wires was used in this report. Contact Joey Knight at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.