Mende went 3-for-4, hit a home run and tallied two RBIs to guide USF to an 8-5 win against UCF on Tuesday night at Red McEwen Field.
“Obviously, this game was very big for me,” Mende said. “I’ve been struggling. Defense has been there, but I’ve been struggling offensively.”
Mende had nine hits in 40 at-bats in the team’s first 10 games.
“He’s got all the tools to be a superstar at the collegiate level,” said Bulls coach Lelo Prado. “He just has to put it all together. This game was a big step.”
After striking out and hitting two singles in his previous three at-bats, Mende hit a two-run home run over the left field wall to give the Bulls an 8-5 cushion in the bottom of the seventh.
“It was a new pitcher and coach told me to sit on a slider,” Mende said. “So I sat on a slider, and it was a hanging slider. I got a good piece of it and it went.”
Senior Mike Consolmagno hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third, scoring Peter
Brotons to put the Bulls up 1-0.
UCF answered in the top of the fourth, however. Shane Brown was hit by USF starter Ted Kaufman and scored on a single by Brandon Romans. Evan Stabbs hit a run-scoring triple to put the Knights up 2-1.
The Bulls came back with a single by Ryan Lockwood, scoring Mende and freshman Daniel Rockhold to give the Bulls a 4-2 advantage.
The Bulls play the Knights again today in Orlando at 6:30. Mende said Tuesday’s win will help the team take momentum into the matchup.
“It turns the page,” he said. “The whole day we were saying this was the most important day of the year. Obviously, next game will be the next most important day.”