In what was a tightly contested battle through six innings, USF’s David Villar knocked a three-run homer out of USF Baseball Stadium in the bottom of the seventh, leading the Bulls to a 7-3 victory over the University of North Florida on Tuesday night.
The Bulls' 19 game win-streak stands as the second longest in school history, one game behind the 20-game streak set in 1991.
Regardless of the streak, both coach Mark Kingston, and players alike, assure that the Bulls are taking each game, “one game at a time.”
“We don’t even know about the streak,” Villar said. “It’s in the back of our minds, but we’re not trying to think about it. We’re just having fun playing baseball.”
Down a run entering the bottom of the seventh, the Bulls rallied around gritty at-bats and hustle plays to energize the team into mounting a comeback.
Chopping an RBI-infield single, Duke Stunkel sprinted full speed to first base, sliding in head-first to beat the throw.
Stunkel was safe, the USF dugout erupted, and the Bulls had tied the game at three a piece, with Villar up to bat next.
Villar dug-in and delivered a shot over the right field wall, collecting three RBI’s, and splitting what was a close game, wide open.
Though it was ultimately Villar’s three-run homerun that gave the Bulls a lead, Villar stated that it was Stunkel’s efforts that motivated him to produce.
“That picks up everyone’s momentum,” Villar said on Stunkel’s head-first slide. “It gives me the fire to go produce as well and get the RBIs in that situation.”
After taking the lead, the Bulls' bullpen did the rest of the work, retiring the next six batters they faced, leading to the defeat of the Ospreys (14-8).
Despite the score being tight throughout the contest, Kingston said there was never any sense of panic in the dugout.
“We feel confident that when our bullpen gets in the game they’re going to give us a chance to win, and tonight they did,” coach Kingston said.
"Our pitching and defense were really good, and it kept us in the game long enough so that our offense could find a way to get runs on the board. It's a complete team."
The Bulls will be in for another test tonight, as USF heads south to play in just their second road game of the season, facing Florida Gulf Coast (18-3) at 6:30.