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Bulls rally to beat FAMU

Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012 00:03

ORACLE PHOTO/EDUARDA CASTRO

ORACLE PHOTO/EDUARDA CASTRO

Freshman shortstop Kyle Teaf beat out a double play in the ninth inning Wednesday, helping the Bulls to a 6-5 win over Florida A&M.

A sluggish start on offense didn’t hold the USF baseball team back from continuing its recent hot streak Wednesday night.

The Bulls rallied from a three-run deficit to take down Florida A&M in unique walk-off fashion, 6-5 at the USF Baseball Stadium.

USF was down by as many as three runs, entering the bottom of the sixth inning down 4-1, but fought back to win and keep momentum going for a key weekend series against Notre Dame.

“I said before the game that they’d be swinging the bat, and if they got pitching it would be a dogfight, and it was a dogfight anyway,” coach Lelo Prado said.

USF freshman Devin Smith took to the mound for his first career start, but struggled through four innings of work, giving up seven hits and allowing the Rattlers to jump to a two-run lead.

Relievers Derrick Stultz, Kyle Parker and Adrian Puig combined to allow five hits and three more runs in three total innings. Nick Gonzalez picked up the win with two late shutout innings.

The USF offense was sluggish early, but made up for its frustrations with an explosive sixth inning. Two straight hits from Todd Brazeal and Zac Gilcrease began a string of six baserunners in eight at-bats, and James Ramsay hit an RBI double to give the Bulls (18-8) the 5-4 lead.

After the Rattlers (5-23) immediately responded with a game-tying run in the top of the seventh, neither team mustered an offensive chance until the Bulls began their rally in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Brazeal smacked a fly ball that looked like a walk-off home run but came up just short, hitting the top of the fence for a double. Gilcrease and Andrew Longley drew walks to load the bases, setting up Kyle Teaf for a heroic moment.

The freshman shortstop grounded into what looked like a routine 6-4-3 double play that would have sent the game into extra innings, but he had other plans. Teaf hustled to the first base bag and barely managed to beat out a late throw, giving the Bulls a walk-off win.

“Weekday games are just like Sunday games,” Prado said. “You have to just grind it out and find a way to win the game.”

USF will now have to make a quick turnaround and be ready for the Fighting Irish, who come to Tampa for the final weekend of USF’s long homestand. The first game of the series is Friday night at 7, with starts at 6 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

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