(USF- 6, Vermont- 5)
After trailing Vermont on Tuesday night for eight innings, USF found a way to tie it up and send the game into extra innings.
With two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning, a runner on second base and the Catamounts (1-10) leading 5-4, sophomore Joey Angelberger did what every young baseball player dreams of – hit a walk-off home run – and helped the Bulls (11-11, 2-1) win their seventh game in nine tries.
“I’m just very happy for our team that we won the game,” coach Eddie Cardieri said. “For Joey Angelberger to step up and hit a walk-off like he did, I just couldn’t be more proud of him.”
With a runner in scoring position, Angelberger wasn’t trying to hit a home run. He was just hoping to get a base hit and bring home the tying run.
“(I was) just trying to put the bat on the ball. (I got) a pitch on the inside corner, got the barrel on it, and it accidentally goes out,” said Angelberger, who finished the game 3-for-6 and had three RBI.
USF took a 1-0 lead in the third inning, but Vermont responded in the fourth with three runs after the Bulls committed two errors and pitcher Yuri Higgins gave up four hits.
With USF down 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, sophomore Dexter Butler tied the game with a pinch-hit single up the middle to bring home sophomore Brandin Daniel.
“Whenever I don’t get in the lineup, I’m always going to be in the game, rooting for my teammates and ready to go,” said Butler, who is the usual third-base starter. “Around the fifth or sixth (inning) coach told me to be ready. So that’s all I had to do: Get some swings and be loose.”
The game lasted three hours and 44 minutes, and until the Bulls were awakened with Angelberger’s home run, the length of the game was taking a toll on some players.
“I was physically tired, I know that,” Angelberger said. “I’m sure everybody was, but we’re fine. We prep for this.”
Added Cardieri, “It gets draining a little bit, but when it’s over and you win it, you feel pretty good.”
With the Catamounts coming into the game with only one win this season, USF matched up well with them on paper, but the Vermont didn’t make it easy for the Bulls.
“We warned our guys before the game to guard against that,” Cardieri said. “A team is 1-9 coming in here. They’re dangerous. Anybody can beat anybody on a given day in Division I. All it takes is a good pitcher, and they had that.”
Added Angelberger: “You can’t really expect to blow somebody out. It’s baseball. The best teams beat the worst teams, but they weren’t a bad team.”
As soon as Angelberger hit the ball, USF’s bench was cleared and the team celebrated its third walk-off victory in four games.
“All I heard was screaming,” Butler said. “I was watching the ball and screaming, too. It was a great feeling.”