CLEARWATER — In a survive-and-advance setting, USF couldn't survive its litany of missed opportunities and meager pitching depth Friday.
In a defeat typical of their injury-besieged season, the No. 7-seeded Bulls (24-33) had 13 hits but stranded 10 runners in a 7-5 loss to Memphis (21-38) in an American Athletic Conference tournament elimination game at Bright House Field.
Shortstop Jake Overbey, a .195 hitter coming in, hit a two-run single up the middle in Memphis' three-run ninth that gave the Tigers a 7-4 lead. The Bulls got a run back on sophomore Duke Stunkel Jr.'s one-out RBI-single before freshman David Villar hit into USF's fourth double play.
"I think it's probably an appropriate way for our season to end," coach Mark Kingston said. "We came up just short. A lot of baseball plays went on through that game that we just aren't good enough yet to take advantage of."
USF trailed 4-3 entering the bottom of the eighth before centerfielder Garrett Zech, one of the Bulls' five freshman starters, hit a leadoff double off Memphis sidearm closer Nolan Blackwood. He later raced home on a wild pitch to tie the score.
But senior reliever Michael Clarkson of Dunedin High, the eighth USF pitcher used in three days, allowed two one-out singles in the ninth before walking designated hitter Trent Turner, setting up Overbey's decisive hit.
Starter Phoenix Sanders, used as a closer Wednesday, allowed three runs on eight hits over six gritty innings. Steinbrenner alumnus Kevin Merrell was one of three Bulls with three hits.
"It's well documented what has happened to our pitching depth this year," said Kingston, who has four pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery. "Nobody can say we didn't play hard today. The kids left it all on the field, we just ran out of gas there at the end, gave up that three-spot in the ninth and that was the difference."
More baseball: At the SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala., No. 4 seed Florida (46-12) pounded out 14 hits, four by first baseman JJ Schwarz, to beat top seed Mississippi State 12-2 in an elimination game. The Gators face LSU today; that game starts half an hour after the 1 p.m. Mississippi-Texas A&M game ends. … In the ACC tournament in Durham, N.C., Florida State (36-19) and Miami (45-10) meet today at 3 p.m. with the winner going to Sunday's final.
Football: Mississippi self-imposed scholarship reductions because of NCAA violations and is still investigating more allegations involving first-round NFL draft pick Laremy Tunsil. The university released its 154-page response to the notice of allegations received in January.
Men's tennis: USF senior Roberto Cid, the second seed, Cid rallied from an early hole for a 6-4, 6-3 triumph against San Diego's Uros Petronijevic in the round of 16 at the NCAA singles championships in Tulsa, Okla. He'll face UCLA's Mackenzie McDonald in today's quarterfinals. Cid's teammate, senior Dominic Cotrone, fell in three sets to TCU's Cameron Norrie.
Women's tennis: UF's Belinda Woolcock lost to Oklahoma State's Katarina Adamovic in the round of 16 at the NCAA singles tournament. Virginia's Danielle Collins, a St. Petersburg native, reached the quarterfinals with a straight-set win over Arianne Hartono of Ole Miss. In doubles, UF's Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan made the quarterfinals.
Women's lacrosse: No. 3 seed North Carolina beat Penn State 12-11 and top seed Maryland defeated No. 4 Syracuse 19-9 in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament. The final is Sunday in Philadelphia.
Information from Times wires was used in this report. Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.