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Strong pitching helps USF beat No. 18 Stetson

Thanks to a strong platoon of pitchers and early offense, the USF baseball team claimed its second win over a ranked opponent this year.

The Bulls (18-18) took an early lead on No. 18 Stetson (29-8) at the USF Baseball Stadium on Tuesday night and cruised to a 5-2 victory in front of 1,642 fans.

Runs in the first, second and third innings were all the Bulls needed to get revenge on the Hatters, who beat them last week in Deland.

USF jumped out to a fast start as leadoff batter Jonathan Koscso was hit with the fourth pitch of the game. Koscso moved to third base on a double to the left-field corner by senior outfielder/pitcher Junior Carlin. Both Koscso and Carlin scored when Sam Mende sent a two-RBI single back up the middle of the diamond to give USF an early 2-0 lead.

The Bulls’ pitching staff put together a strong game to keep the Hatters under control. Senior Zach Pietrzyk made his first start in nearly three years, pitching three scoreless innings and collecting the win before being replaced by left-hander Kyle Parker, who pitched 1.2 innings in his season debut.

Andrew Loynaz followed them on the mound for USF, pitching 2.1 innings. Carlin moved to the mound from left field to work an inning before closer Kevin Quackenbush pitched the final inning in a non-save situation.

“When you throw strikes and get ahead in the count, you’ve got a chance,” coach Lelo Prado said. “Zach did a great job starting the game, and our hitters did a good job coming out of the gates. Everybody – Loynaz did a good job, Carlin did his job, Quackenbush did his job.”

With the win, Pietrzyk improved his record to 3-1 this season.

“Zach didn’t want to come out of the game, but we need him ready for this weekend,” Prado said. “(Pitching coach) Chuck (Hernandez), in the third inning said, ‘He’s out,’ and I said, ‘What do you mean he’s out?'”

USF added an unearned run in the second inning on an error by Stetson third baseman Ben Carhart. The Bulls scored two more in the third courtesy of an RBI double to the right-center field gap by freshman right fielder James Ramsay.

In all, USF outhit Stetson 9-5 and improved to 17-7 in games where it outhits its opponent.

Next up for USF is a three-game set at Louisville scheduled to begin Thursday at 6 p.m. The Bulls have won their last three conference series.