DELAND — It took a bit of drama, but No. 2 USF kept its season alive with a 9-4 win over No. 4 Hartford in 11 innings Saturday in the DeLand Regional.
USF seemingly had the game at hand with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with closer Andrew Perez on the mound, looking to secure what would have been a 4-3 victory. A throwing error by third baseman David Villar allowed the tying run to score, sending the game to extra innings.
“I thought I had to rush the throw,” Villar said. “I thought it was a play I could have made.”
The Bulls scored five runs in the top of the 11th inning thanks to a two-run single by Villar and a three-run homer by Joe Genord.
“Once I came up in the 11th, I wasn’t thinking about the error anymore,” Villar said. “If I go up to bat thinking about the error, I’m probably not going to succeed like that.”
USF opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with a solo homer by Coco Montes. The Bulls added runs in the second, fifth and sixth innings before scoring the game-winning runs in the 11th.
Shane McClanahan started the game on the mound for the Bulls. The sophomore lefty allowed two runs while walking four batters over five innings. Graham Hoffman and Carson Ragsdale also pitched for USF before Perez came on to pitch the final four innings of the game.
The game was delayed for almost two hours in the seventh inning due to lightning in the area. Coupled with the extra-inning affair, it was a lengthy day for coach Billy Mohl’s team.
“It was a gritty performance,” Mohl said. “These guys fought until the very end. It was a long day, but we’ve got a great group of kids. They showed what they were made of today."
Up next for USF is a revenge game against Oklahoma State, which beat the Bulls 9-2 Friday, on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Bulls will start Collin Sullivan, according to Mohl.
Sullivan last pitched against Wichita State in the Bulls’ third game in the AAC Tournament, allowing one earned run en route to a complete game victory.
After Sullivan, the rest of the bullpen is up in the air, according to Mohl.
“It’s every man up tomorrow,” Mohl said. “It just depends on the situation.”
If USF wins the afternoon game, it will face Stetson in a night game.