The Bulls can thank pitcher Casey Hudspeth for their win, even though he essentially did it off the mound.
USF (16-19, 6-7) won its first Big East game in nearly two weeks, beating Louisville (15-19, 6-4) 11-5 at Red McEwen Field due to a heads-up play on the part of Hudspeth.
With the Cardinals rallying in the sixth to bring the score to 6-5, Louisville sent designated hitter Michael Utri home after the ball took a bad hop on the throw from right fielder Joey Angelberger. Despite the ball going to the backstop, Hudspeth was in position to throw the ball to catcher Braulio Pardo for the third out, preventing the game-tying run from scoring.
“That throw from right,” Pardo said, “it hit the lip of the batter’s box or something, and just popped out of my reach. Basically, Huddy gave me the good throw, and I was able to tag the runner they sent. It was the key play right there because it would have just changed the momentum.”
The Bulls added three runs in the seventh when Pardo hit a two-RBI single and second baseman Nick Cardieri hit a sac fly, extending the lead to 9-6.
But Angelberger felt it was the play in the sixth that helped the Bulls end a six-game conference losing streak.
“Huddy just did his job,” said Angelberger, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI. “He was in position to make the play, and it was a good thing he was. He got the bounce off the wall pretty well, and he made (that) good play.”
Added coach Eddie Cardieri, “It was the big play of this game, that’s for sure.”
Even though Hudspeth, who threw 112 pitches and six strikeouts, declined to interview after the game, Cardieri felt what the junior – who recorded his 20th career victory and evened his record at 4-4 – did on the mound Thursday was “better” than previous starts.
“Casey is working on a few things mechanically, because he really hasn’t been himself in the past two starts,” Cardieri said. “He executed everything a lot better tonight, especially his pitches, I thought.”
The Bulls scored first in the game on RBI singles by Kris Howell and Brandin Daniel and a sac fly by Angelberger. The sophomore right fielder knew jumping on the Cardinals early was what the team needed.
“We came out early and did well – something we hadn’t really been doing,” Angelberger said. “We got five runs in two innings; hopping on them real quick was something we really needed.”
Pardo, who went 2-for-4 with two RBI, thought the game should have been a blowout.
“We were 5-1 in the Big East at one point,” Pardo said. “Then we get swept twice by Cincinnati and Notre Dame, and no one wants to get swept, so we just came out here today wanting to pound these guys – we should’ve. It could have – should have been 11-0. (The game) was a lot closer than it appears.”