CLEARWATER — It hasn't always been pretty, but USF has continued to find ways to stay alive in the Big East Tournament.
The fourth-seeded Bulls (38-21) rallied with two runs — both scored off wild pitches — in the bottom of the seventh and defeated UConn (31-27) 2-1 Saturday night for their second victory of the day over the No. 5 seed Huskies at Bright House Field.
USF advanced for the first time to the tournament final and faces St. John's (36-21) at noon today (ESPNU, 1010-AM).
"I'm just so damn proud of our kids, man," Bulls coach Lelo Prado said. "They've worked so hard. It started in the fall. It started last year, when we didn't make this tournament, so for us to be playing in the championship, it says a lot about these young men."
Huskies second baseman LJ Mazzilli singled home a run in the sixth on a grounder that took a tough hop on USF shortstop Kyle Teaf, but the Bulls responded with the tying and go-ahead runs off UConn pitcher Dan Feehan. He allowed a walk and a hit, balked those runners into scoring position and threw two wild pitches in the seventh.
Senior designated hitter Daniel Rockhold scored the first run when Feehan's pitch went to the backstop and his tag at the plate was late. Moments later, rightfielder Jimmy Falla scored after UConn catcher Joe Pavone appeared to hesitate in chasing down the pitch, and Feehan's tag was again just late.
Earlier Saturday, USF Derrick Stultz threw a shutout in a 1-0 win against the Huskies that forced the second game.
Stultz, a redshirt senior out of Wharton High, allowed three hits and two walks and had four strikeouts on 104 pitches for his second career complete game. Falla provided the lone run on a homer to deep left in the fourth.
"I just went out there one pitch at a time, my team had my back and we got through it," Stultz said.
No. 2 seed St. John's advanced to its third consecutive conference final, defeating Notre Dame 2-1 in the day's first game. Starter Kyle Hansen struck out seven and allowed just one run in 7⅓ innings.