CLEARWATER – Matt Reed held down a potent Cardinal offense through 7-1/3 innings as the USF Bulls defeated Louisville 6-2 on day three of the Big East Conference tournament.
With the victory on Friday, USF stays on for a rematch with the UCONN Huskies on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Cardinals’ loss, in combination with UCONN’s 4-1 victory over Louisville on Friday morning, means the regular-season Big East champion Cardinals were eliminated from tournament action.
The Bulls got on the board quickly against Big East Rookie of the Year Jared Ruxer.
With one out in the first, Luis Llerena, James Ramsay, and Daniel Rockhold strung together consecutive singles to give the Bulls an early 1-0 advantage.
That score held until the fifth, when with two down Zac Wasserman belted a hanging breaking ball well over the wall in right to knot things up at one.
In the home half, Andrew Longley singled with one down and Kyle Teaf followed with a bloop hit to left. After a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third, Alex Mendez blasted a three-run shot out to right – his third homer of the year – to give USF the 4-1 lead.
Matt Reed (5-3) continues to come up big for the Bulls in 2012. The senior lefty allowed just two runs – one earned – on four hits in his 7-1/3 innings to earn the victory.
On the other side, Ruxer (8-2) allowed four earned runs on eight hits in his six innings of work. The freshman has suffered only two losses in his collegiate career – both to USF.
The Bulls added some insurance in the eighth when Rockhold took reliever and All Big East Third Team member Derek Self yard for a two-run home run, extending the Bulls lead to 6-2. That home run was the senior’s team-leading seventh of the year.
Austin Adams worked the final 1-2/3 innings scoreless to pick up his fourth save.
USF moves on to day four of tournament action and will battle UCONN at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bright House Networks Field. The Huskies have yet to suffer a loss in the tournament, so if USF is victorious the two teams will play a doubleheader, with game two starting at either 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. The winner would then advance to the Big East Championship game on Sunday.