TAMPA, FL - Joey Lovecchio struggled from the start, and the Bulls' late rally came up just short as USF fell to Villanova 7-6 on Saturday night at the USF Baseball Stadium. The Bulls (28-15, 11-6) have lost the first two games of the series to the Wildcats (25-19, 8-9), and have now dropped their past two Big East series.
Lovecchio (7-2) allowed three straight singles to open the first, the last of which scored Marlon Calbi as Villanova took the early 1-0 lead.
The Wildcats plated two more in the second inning. A pair of two out RBI singles from Paul Rambaud and Kevin Wager increased to Villanova lead to 3-0.
USF put a runner on second with one down in the home half of the frame, and Andrew Longley delivered with a single to left center to push across the first run of the day for the Bulls. They then cut the lead down to one in the third when, with two down, James Ramsay singled and Todd Brazeal drove him home with a double.
The hit parade continued against Lovecchio. In the fourth, a single, hit batter, and sacrifice put two runners in scoring position with just one down. Kevin Wager singled to center to plate one, but Chad Taylor gunned down the trail runner Rambaud at the plate, helping limit the damage to just one run in the inning.
Lovecchio allowed a pair of singles in the fifth before being lifted with one out in favor of freshman Mike Clarkson. Lovecchio's final line constituted five runs on 10 hits and two walks in just 4 2/3 innings of work.
The Wildcats scored two more off reliever Adrian Puig in the sixth, and the Bulls found themselves trailing 7-2 heading to the home half of the frame.
With a runner on and one down, Andrew Longley blasted his third homerun in as many games, sending a shot out to left for his sixth homer of the season, tying Daniel Rockhold for the team lead. Kyle Teaf followed by shooting a triple to the gap in left center, and Chad Taylor singled to center to cut the deficit to two.
After a wild pitch, a hit batsman, and a fielder's choice, James Ramsay came up with runners on first and second and two down, and the Bulls' sophomore right fielder singled to right center pulling the Bulls to within one, but that was all the USF offense would muster.
USF is now tied with UCONN for third place in the Big East standings, and the Bulls will try to salvage game three against Villanova on Sunday, with first pitch set for 1 p.m.