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Five-run eighth inning fuels USF victory

Stephen Hunt gave the Bulls a much-needed boost Wednesday night.

The sophomore utility man had a two-run and three-run triple to help USF bounce back from a tough loss Tuesday and take care of Bethune-Cookman 12-8 in Daytona Beach.

“I felt pretty good up there,” Hunt said. “The wind kind of helped me out a bit on one of them, but I felt pretty good. It’s going to be tough to erase the taste out of our mouths after (Tuesday’s) loss, but it was a good win.”

Hunt is hitting .345 with 17 RBIs this season. The Bulls, who lost 4-3 to Stetson Tuesday night, have won seven of eight games.

“It (the win) gets us back on track, but we’re still bitter about the way we played (Tuesday),” Prado said. 

USF has scored double-digit runs in eight of 22 games this year.

Junior reliever Joe Cole recorded his first win as a Bull, working 1 1/3 innings in relief. Cole gave up one hit and struck out two. 

Starter Matt Reed, who pitched a complete-game shutout last week at FAMU, was roughed up early, giving up four runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings. Joe Cole, Kevin Quackenbush, Kyle Eastham and Shawn Sanford all made relief appearances.

“We needed to give certain guys some work,” Prado said. “They got some work and did a good job. We got all the guys in we needed too.”

USF jumped on Bethune-Cookman early behind Hunt’s three-run triple in the third inning. After catcher Trey Manz singled home Hunt to make it 4-0, the Wildcats answered with a four-run inning of their own, highlighted by Emmanuel Castro’s two-run home run.

With the score tied at 4-4 in the fourth, USF’s Peter Brotons scored on a wild pitch to give the Bulls the lead back.

After Bethune-Cookman took the lead, scoring a run in the fifth and sixth innings, the floodgates opened as the Bulls scored five in the eighth behind Hunt’s second triple of the game.

“It’s a good win,” Prado said. “We’re back on track. Let’s see if we can carry it over to UConn.”

USF plays the first of a three-game series at 3 p.m. on Friday in Storrs.