May 18, 2001
METAIRIE, La. - The bottom of the lineup produced eight hits including four in the 10th inning to lead South Florida past Louisville 7-3 in an elimination game of the FedEx Conference USA Tournament Friday afternoon at Zephyr Field.
USF, the No. 3 seed, needs two wins over Southern Mississippi Saturday to advance to Sunday's title game. The first game will be at 10 a.m. EDT and game two, if necessary, will begin at 4 p.m.
The Bulls (30-28) scored three in the third inning and led until Louisville (32-29) tied the game at 3 in the seventh. USF stranded a pair in the ninth before breaking through against All-C-USA first-team reliever Josh Ring for the second time in three days.
Designated hitter Kris Courier walked on four pitches with one out to start the rally. Allen Shirley singled under the third baseman's glove and into left field to move Travis Brown, pinch-running for Courier to second. Mike Barclay brought home the game-winning run when he sent a 1-0 pitch through the left side that scored Brown and moved Shirley to second.
"I saw a few sliders early on today and I was up in the count so I knew I was going to get a fastball and I just hit a line drive to left field," said Barclay. "There were a few momentum changes today but in the 10th inning when we got the first two runners on base the momentum started to swing our way and I knew we were going to win the game at that point."
Bill Nahorodny singled through the right side to score Shirley and move Barclay to third and USF led 5-3. The Bulls had two runners in scoring position after Nahorodny stole second and Mike Macaluso, the No. 9 hitter, singled up the middle to score both runners as the Bulls built a 7-3 advantage.
"There were so many big hits in the 10th inning," said USF coach
Eddie Cardieri. "All the hits were key hits, all big-time key hits. The
bottom of the lineup really most of the day today did the job for us."
Uhl, a red-shirt freshman right-hander, allowed eight hits while striking out five in eight innings. He worked around three walks and two hit batters. The Cardinal lead-off batter reached base in five of Uhl's eight innings.
"Jon Uhl pitched great and I can't emphasize enough how well he threw," said Cardieri. "' He scattered three single runs and on one of them we had the guy thrown out at the plate. I don't know what it hit but it jumped over the catcher's head and if it takes a good bounce that guy is out and we probably win the game 3-2. That's how well he pitched."
USF used four consecutive singles to score three runs in the third inning. Ben Drawdy singled into right field with one out and moved to second when Leslie singled into center field. Daniel Boyd gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead with a single into left-center field that scored Drawdy and pushed Leslie to third.
Mike Eylward singled into right field to score Boyd and moved to second when Mark Jurich mishandled the ball. A Courier sacrifice fly to center field scored Boyd from third and the Bulls led 3-0.
Louisville scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings. "Our closer didn't close when we needed him to," said UL coach Lelo Prado. "They beat us four times this year. They're the better team. I am tired of coming to these tournaments and winning one or two games, then going home."
Ring (4-6) took the loss. He allowed six hits in three innings, striking out one and walking two in relief of Mike Tisdale. "Tisdale pitched a good game," said Prado. "He gave us seven strong innings. Ring was good in the eighth and ninth but I guess he ran out of gas in the 10th."
USF will play on Saturday for the first time since C-USA's first tournament in 1996. The Bulls came out of the loser's bracket that year, as well, and scored 31 runs in two victories against Charlotte to advance into the title game against Tulane. The Green Wave, though, won the championship 2-0. USF earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament the following day.