USF took the series against Tulane (12-16, 3-3) on Saturday, with a 10-8 victory at the USF Baseball Stadium and a commanding 14-3 win Friday night.
For first-year head coach Billy Mohl, it marked his first games as a manager against his alma mater.
“That’s where I spent seven years of my life, I have a lot of respect for those guys in the dugout,” Mohl said. “But it feels good. It’s just another team. Our guys came out, played well and we got a series win, which is what we try to do every weekend.”
Mohl, who was a pitcher at Tulane, is ranked fifth in win percentage and is tied for starting the fourth most games in Green Wave baseball history. He was a standout since his freshman year when he earned Conference USA All-Freshman team honors. He went undefeated his senior season going 9-0.
After graduating, Mohl became a student assistant for Tulane in 2007. He claimed an assistant coaching position the following year. He coached for the Green Wave for three seasons, then five seasons at Illinois State before he came to USF as a pitching coach in 2015.
“It’s (Tulane), one of the better programs in the country,” Mohl said. “You look at the history of their school in the early to mid-2000s they’re going to Omaha, Super Regionals everything else and they’re still doing a good job.”
On Saturday, Tulane scored three runs in the seventh inning and were threatening to score more. With the score tied at seven, Mohl called upon Andrew Perez, the Bulls’ closer, in relief two innings early.
Perez allowed one run to score in the inning, but shutout the Green Wave for the rest of the game.
“It was huge,” Mohl said. “He was fresh, we hadn’t thrown him all week and having a closer that is able to go two, three, four innings — that’s always big for a club.”
The run Perez allowed wasn’t charged to him.
“Andrew is our dude out of the pen,” senior Duke Stunkel Jr. said. “He always has been, always will be. You know what you’re going to get out of him: He’s going to battle the whole game.”
Stunkel did his share of contribution to the Bulls’ win as well, as he knocked a single to left-center to score Tyler Dietrich and give the Bulls a 9-8 lead.
“Duke is Duke,” Mohl said. “Duke is clutch. He’s been around for a long time, he’s a senior and he’s done that time and time again. He knows the situation, it’s never too big for him and he usually produces.”
Stunkel, who had no hits on Thursday night and two on Friday, is batting .344 for the year with just 32 hits, but gave the Bulls one when they needed it the most.
“I was just trying to find a pitch to drive,” Stunkel said. “I fell behind in the count, but I stuck with my approach thinking the other way left-center and I got a pitch to hit.”
While USF was able to have a clutch performance on Saturday, it fell short in the series opener on Thursday.
USF had two opportunities to win in the bottom of the ninth inning in the first game of the series. Trailing 3-2 with Chris Chatfield in scoring position and one out, the Bulls stranded him. The Bulls recorded seven hits in the first game of the series, but turned their offense around the next night.
The Bulls dropped their first game 3-2 against the Green Wave. Starting pitcher Shane McClanahan pitched 6 innings and recorded 12 strikeouts, bringing his total to 73 for the season.
USF was able to jump-start their offense the next night. In their 14-3 victory Friday, USF recorded a season-high 18 hits.
“Guys are taking better at-bats, they’re getting better pitches to hit,” Mohl said. “You’ve just got to keep moving forward. It’s all about who’s on the mound for the opponent.”
The Bulls led Tulane 9-0 after the second inning. Back-to-back home runs and a Stunkel single prompted the Green Wave to tap into their bullpen early in the game. It was all downhill from there as USF tacked onto its score.
USF shares a conference record with East Carolina (20-6, 4-2) and Houston (17-11, 4-2). The Bulls travel to Houston for a 3-game series starting Friday.