TAMPA, FL -
USF strung together five straight two-out hits in the fifth inning on its way to a 3-2 victory over UCONN on Friday night, moving the two teams into a tie for third place in the Big East Conference with just five conference games remaining.
Andrew Barbosa (7-4) turned in another solid outing, hurling 110 pitches across eight strong innings to pick up the victory. Barbosa allowed just two runs - one earned - on five hits.
The Huskies put up both their runs in the second. Ryan Fuller led off with a double to left-center, and Tom Verdi followed by laying down a bunt to the left side. Barbosa fired a low throw that skipped past first baseman Buddy Putnam, allowing Fuller to score. After a strikeout and a walk, Eric Yavarone singled to left to score Verdi, and moved up to second on a wild throw from left fielder Alex Mendez.
David Fischer (3-6) cruised through the first four innings, throwing just 30 pitches and keeping USF off the board. Putnam struck out and Todd Brazeal flew out to left to open the fifth, and Fischer looked to be on his way to another quick inning.
The Bulls had other plans.
Zac Gilcrease singled to right, and Andrew Longley doubled to left to cut the Huskies' lead in half. Kyle Teaf followed with a first-pitch single up the the third-base line to bring home Gilcrease with the tying run.
With Teaf running on the pitch, Mendez singled to right to put runners on the corners for Luis Llerena. Llerena then laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt to the left side, which Fischer knocked down but had no play on as Teaf crossed the plate with the go-ahead.
USF carried that 3-2 lead into the ninth, and called upon junior righty Austin Adams to close it out.
Adams quickly got ahead in the count to the first batter he faced, but hit Verdi with the two-strike offering to put the lead-off man and tying run aboard to start the ninth. Jon Testani executed the sacrifice bunt, and UCONN had the tying run in scoring position with just one out.
Adams then cut down Joe Pavone with a half-swing at a low slider for out number two, and got Yavarone to chase an up-and-in fastball for the final out en route to his third save.
Both teams stand at 14-8 in conference play, two games back of first-place St. Johns. The win snapped a five game skid to UCONN, and the Bulls will look to make it two in a row when the two teams square off on Saturday at 6 p.m. A win on Saturday would secure a berth in the Big East Conference Tournament, which begins May 23rd at Brighthouse Field in Clearwater.