Sullivan sets career high in strikeouts as Bulls beat Cincinnati to open conference play

Collin Sullivan set a career high with 11 strikeouts on Friday. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/BRIAN HATTAB

Collin Sullivan led the way as USF knocked off Cincinnati 4-2 in the Bulls’ AAC opener Friday night at the USF Baseball Stadium.

Sullivan's 11 strikeouts set a new career high. He went seven innings, allowing one run on his way to his fourth win of the season

“Collin Sullivan was really good for us tonight. He gave us everything we needed,” coach Billy Mohl said. “He just goes out there and competes. He’s learned from his mistakes in the past and built off the end of last year and he really hasn’t looked back … you see his huge heart and soul in all of it.”

Cincinnati’s AJ Bumpass hit a solo homer in the top of the second, which was the only run Sullivan allowed.

Not only was pitching a key factor in win, but USF’s offense contributed as well.

Kyle Phillips steered the Bulls toward victory when he drove in Chris Chatfield in the bottom of the fifth, tying the game 1-1.

With the bases loaded, Cincinnati pitcher AJ Kullman hit Joe Genord in the bottom of the fifth, driving Garrett Zech in, giving the Bulls a one-run lead.

Jordan Santos drove in Chatfield with a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the sixth, bringing the score to 3-1 with what would be the game winning run.

The Bulls added one more in the seventh inning, padding things for Nelson Alvarez to earn his fourth save of the season.

“We had some clutch hitting — [Tyler] Dietrich with the big double there [in the seventh],” Mohl said. “With runners in motion, we scored an extra run which turned out to be big. The offense had some key hits.”

While USF pulled ahead in its conference opener, the Bulls still have the rest of the season to compete against other skilled teams and test their talent.

“We got win No. 1. The conference is what matters — it’s a really good league. Every week is going to be a battle,” Mohl said.

As conference play began, Mohl wanted more consistency from his club. Though only one win, it’s a good start.

“There’s still things that we’re working for, but overall the guys are starting to battle together — they’re starting to feel the team come together a little bit more,” Mohl said. “They will never give up.”

The Bulls continue the series against Cincinnati on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the USF Baseball Stadium.