Foundering only a month ago, the USF baseball team’s surreal late-season surge continued Friday with a convincing 5-3 triumph against top-seeded Florida (38-21) in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament’s Gainesville regional.
The victory was the Bulls’ 12th in their last 18 contests and snapped the Gators’ four-game win streak in the series. The triumph was USF’s first in a postseason setting against Florida since May 28, 1982 — the Bulls’ first NCAA tournament contest. Longtime Bulls softball coach Ken Eriksen was a member of that team.
“This is a good team,” Bulls coach Billy Mohl said. “We’ve obviously hit our stride late in the year, but this is a really good group of kids who are really talented, and they’re playing for each other right now.”
USF (29-27) will face Miami in a winners’ bracket contest Saturday at 4 p.m. The Gators face South Alabama Saturday at noon.
Despite a weather delay of slightly more than two hours, a quartet of Bulls pitchers — led by Springstead High alumnus Jack Jasiak — combined to neutralize a Gators team that had totaled 47 hits in four SEC Tournament contests last week. Jasiak started, allowing a run on four hits in four innings.
First baseman Riley Hogan led USF offensively, going 2-for-3 with a third-inning solo home run that gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead. Following the delay, Hogan provided insurance in the seventh with a single that scored Carmine Lane (who also homered) to give USF a 5-2 lead.
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