It was the bottom of the seventh, the bases were loaded, and the South Florida Bulls had one out. Catcher Devin Ivany stepped up to the plate and put the first pitch over the left field fence — grand slam. That blast was enough to overtake Bethune-Cookman, giving USF a 9-4 win at Red McEwen Field on Tuesday.
“It was a big knock, and he told me, ‘Just get me up there with the bases loaded, and I will hit one in the gap.’ He didn’t say anything about hitting it over the fence, but he said he’d hit it in the gap, and he sure did it. That was a big hit,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said.
Ivany, who is hitting .429 for the season, surpassed his promise Tuesday, going 4-for-5 with six RBI.
Ivany struck first for the Bulls in the bottom of the first, when he blasted one up the middle, driving in Bryan Hierlmeier and putting USF up 1-0.
The lead did not last long. The Wildcats responded with a run of their own in the top of the second, and then took the lead in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs to put themselves up 3-1.
“(The first six innings) were tense. We got down, and we have been getting down a lot lately, and it has been hard to come back,” Ivany said. “Thank God we came out of it.”
The seventh inning was not the last time BCC heard from Ivany. He padded his stats and the Bulls’ lead when he drove in Jeff Baisley in the bottom of the eighth, keeping BCC at arm’s length.
The Bulls have been leaving a lot of players on base each game, but Tuesday they had their lowest total (eight) since they stranded five against Army March 18. The Bulls, who have been relying primarily on pitching to keep their games close, changed that Tuesday, as they got positive performances from all aspects of the game: hitting, defense and pitching.
“We got some clutch hits, we got some great at-bats, we made some big plays defensively,” Cardieri said.
Starting pitcher Chris Delaney did his job, pitching five innings, while allowing four hits and three runs. Delaney struck out five batters, while earning the respect of Cardieri.
“I am very proud of how Chris Delaney pitched,,” Cardieri said. “He pitched well enough to keep us in that game and give us a chance to win it,” Travis Rios followed up Delaney, pitching three innings, allowing one run on two hits, striking out five batters and walking three. Rios, who is 4-0 for the year, has a ERA of 3.04.
Rios only pitched three innings, so that he had sufficient rest for the weekend series against Louisville.
“Rios came in for his tuneup for the weekend,” Cardieri said.
If USF can keep up the solid hitting, the pitchers will be the ones to feel the results.
“If pitchers are out there with a four (or) five-run lead, it’s a lot easier, a lot more comfortable than it is to be in a nip and tuck 3-2 situation or something like that,” Cardieri said.
Chris Wagenheim covers USF baseball and can be reached at email@example.com