Bulls sweep Georgetown, move into first-place tie

It turns out the Bulls’ expected hindrance entering this season — the offense — is becoming their greatest asset.

Sophomore Derrick Stultz had a career-high 10 strikeouts, sophomore Stephen Hunt hit his third home run in two games, and the Bulls beat Georgetown 7-2 in the series finale Saturday for a three-game sweep in Washington, D.C., this weekend.

USF has swept three of four Big East series this year and is off to its best 12-game start in conference play since 1996.

“It’s been awesome,” said coach Lelo Prado. “We have enough pitching to get it done, and it’s a new hero every day. We don’t have a few guys carry us, it’s a one through nine effort. As long as we continue to do that, we’ll continue to be a pretty good team.”

Before the season, Prado said the Bulls would have to rely on pitching and defense. However, USF has won eight of its last nine games and totaled more than seven runs in seven straight.

Hunt and junior Chris Rey each hit a pair of home runs in USF’s 10-7 win Friday. The Bulls finished with six, their most in a game since 1999.

Hunt hit another one Saturday and Rey connected during USF’s 11-3 win Thursday.

“They say hitting is contagious,” said Rey, who leads the Bulls in home runs and RBIs. “I saw some good pitches and tried to drive the ball.”

USF came into the weekend with a .323 team batting average, and  11 Bulls are hitting .300 or better this year.

“It’s not the same player every day,” said USF assistant coach Bryant Ward. “It’s a contribution from different guys, from everyday players to role players, to guys who get spot starts. It seems that every button coach Prado pushes, he’s perfectly capable of doing something good offensively.”

Ward also credits the team’s defense and pitching.

“A lot of (the success on offense) is a credit to establishing good tempo on defense, when our defense and pitchers allow us to spend a lot of time in the dugout on offense,” he said.

The Bulls committed just one error this weekend, and sophomore Randy Fontanez earned his third win of the season Thursday, pitching eight innings while giving up three earned runs.

Stultz gave up two earned runs on five hits in seven innings, while striking out 10.

At 10-2, USF is tied atop the Big East standings with West Virginia, which the Bulls face in a home series starting April 24.

“They’re very capable of doing great things,” Ward said. “They’ve come together at the right time, and they’re capable of being as good as they want to be.”

The Bulls will take a day off Monday before taking on FIU at Red McEwen Field on Tuesday at 7 p.m.