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Offense shines in Bulls’ 17-4 win

UCF 4, USF 17

The South Florida Bulls (14-13, 4-5) had their best offensive performance of the year Tuesday night, scoring 12 runs in the first three innings of a 17-4 rout of the No. 25 UCF Knights (22-7, 2-4) in front of 2,397 fans, a UCF all-time attendance record.

Every USF starter had at least one of the team’s 17 total hits, and eight of the nine starters had a RBI.

This was the first win over a Top 25 team for South Florida, which is now 1-4 against Top-25 opponents this season.

The Bulls have been criticized all season for their lack of run production in the early innings, but that was laid to rest for at least one day as USF put the game away early with a barrage of hits led by No. 3 batter Joey Angelberger, who went 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBI.

Also making a large contribution were cleanup hitter Ryan Lockwood, whose two RBI made him the team leader with 22 RBI for the season, and designated hitter Stephen Hunt, who had four RBI in the contest.

Hunt came into the game with a .120 average and was slated to hit seventh. Hunt went 3-for-6 and hit his first home run of the season against the Knights, raising his average to .230 and gaining praise from coach Lelo Prado.

“Stephen Hunt has all the ability in the world. He is young and we have to find time for him to be in the lineup and play,” Prado said.

UCF starting pitcher Caleb Graham (1-2, 8.64 ERA) lasted 1 1/3 innings for the Knights, after allowing six runs – five of which were earned. Graham allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base and allowed three runs before recording the first out – a sacrifice fly by USF third baseman Brandon Smith.

The Knights had to reach deep into their bullpen against the Bulls, trotting out four relievers who allowed 11 runs and 12 hits.

USF’s Matt Stull (2-0, 1.93) came into the game with a 4-0 lead. After a rocky start – during which the Knights loaded the bases with one out in the first inning and scored a run – Stull cruised through six innings, allowing two runs and five hits.

“Matt keeps getting better. He throws strikes, and if you throw strikes in college baseball you have got a chance (to win),” Prado said.

Stull became the fourth straight starter to pitch at least six complete innings for the Bulls, and reliever Kevin Quackenbush made his season debut in the seventh inning.

Quackenbush pitched two innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out two Knights.

Next up for the Bulls is Bethune-Cookman, tonight at 7 at Red McEwen Field.

“We can’t be happy about anything after the way we played last weekend. We just have to move forward,” Prado said.