Bulls salvage series finale behind four home runs
Cincinnati right fielder A.J. Bumpass halfheartedly gave chase as he watched the baseball rocket off Luke Borders’ bat and sail over the fence.
The solo home run was Borders’ second of Saturday afternoon and helped USF (29-7, 5-4) retake a 3-2 lead in the 8th inning in an eventual 4-2 win over the Bearcats at the USF Baseball Stadium.
“It felt great,” Borders said of his game-winning home run. “Regardless of what you do, whenever you can hit a home run like that to help the team get the win, it’s always a good feeling.
USF, which lost the first game of the series 9-3 and then lost in the 10th inning on Friday, salvaged the series with its win on Saturday.
Despite the win, coach Mark Kingston wasn’t pleased with his offense’s performance.
“We wanted to take a different approach, but I don’t think we did, not good enough anyway,” he said. “We only ended up with six hits, luckily four of them were home runs, and that was the major difference in the game.
“But we need to be better than we were today and my message to the team today was, ‘It was important that we got the win, but I expect us to be better than that.’”
Aside from Borders’ two home runs, Kevin Merrell and Joe Genord both hit solo home runs for USF.
Though the offense wasn’t at its best Saturday, the Bulls pitching kept them in the contest all afternoon. Junior Peter Strzelecki lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out four.
He was removed from the game for precautionary reasons after he tweaked his groin reaching for a foul ball rolling down the first-base line in the top of the fifth.
Following his departure, the bullpen kept the Bearcats’ bats silent.
Mark Savarese and Joe Cavallaro combined to pitch the final 4 2/3 of the game, giving up just one hit while walking none and striking out five to seal the win.
USF will take a midweek break from conference play as it travels to play at North Florida on Wednesday at 6 p.m.