Among those seniors was right-hander Derrick Stultz, who turned in a dominant performance that was exactly what the Bulls needed to avoid the sweep on Sunday.
Stultz cruised through the first seven innings, shutting down the Wildcats on just three hits. After throwing just 72 pitches through the front seven, Stultz hit his endpoint in the eighth. He hit pinch-hitter Adam Nelson to open the frame, walked Brandon Carr and, after a sacrifice bunt moved them both into scoring position, Marlon Calbi drew a walk to load the bases.
That ended the day for Stultz, who was lifted in favor of reliever Austin Adams. Adams inherited a bases loaded, one out situation and hit Kevin Wager with the first pitch he threw to push home a run for the Wildcats.
With the Bulls clinging to a two-run lead, Adams cut down Tyler Sciacca looking for out number two, and Matt Fleishman followed by lifting a sinking liner toward the gap in right center. James Ramsay raced in from right, and layed out with a dive to make the grab in the alleyway, a highlight reel catch that preserved the Bulls' lead.
Stultz (7-1) finished having allowed just one run on three hits and two walks in his 7 1/3 innings of work.
With the Bulls and Wildcats scoreless heading to the bottom of the fourth, James Ramsay singled with one out and moved to second on a groundout. Jimmy Falla then came through with an RBI single to center field to put the Bulls up 1-0.
Falla moved up to second on a wild pitch, and Andrew Longley drew a walk to set up runners at the corners with two down. Kyle Teaf laid down a bunt on the first pitch, which Wildcats' pitcher Max Almonte tossed home attempting to catch the runner at the plate, but Falla got around the tag to score the second run of the day for USF.
The Bulls missed opportunities to add to their lead in the fifth and sixth, putting runners in scoring position with less than two outs but failing to score in both frames. In the seventh, they had Teaf at second with two outs and fellow freshman Kyle Copack, making just his seventh start of the season, lined a single into right field to pick up his first RBI in a Bulls' uniform.
With the Bulls up 3-1, sophomore lefty Nick Gonzalez came on in the ninth in search of his first save. Gonzalez allowed a one-out single to Conner Jones, but got John Cialone to line out softly to short and pinch-hitter Andrew Geeren to pop out to Falla at first to preserve the victory.
The Bulls honored their seven graduating seniors in a pregame ceremony, as Stultz, Andrew Barbosa, Matt Reed, Luis Llerena, Todd Brazeal, and Daniel Rockhold are each on the verge of wrapping up their careers in a Bulls uniform. USF does have one final home series on the slate, as they will return home to host UCONN on May 11th through the 13th.
Next up USF (29-16, 12-6) will travel to St. John's to take on the first-place Redstorm (28-16, 14-4) for a three game set, starting on Friday at 6 p.m.