May 19, 2001
METAIRIE, La. -- A pair of pitchers who spent much of their season coming out of the bullpen combined to give South Florida 13 1/3 innings in starting roles and the offense provided 32 hits as the Bulls took two games from Southern Mississippi and moved through the loser's bracket and into the FedEx Conference USA Tournament title game. The Bulls will meet the winner of the Tulane-Memphis game Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised live on the C-USA TV Network which includes Fox Sports Net Florida.
Shannon Royal gave USF a career-high 7 1/3 innings in a 6-4 win Saturday morning at Zephyr Field to force the second game. Jason Bartz then struck out nine in six innings -- both career-highs -- in the 7-4 victory in the evening game that pushed the Bulls into the championship game for the first time since 1996. A victory will give USF the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"Shannon Royal in the first game was so good and then David Richtberg came in and struck out four of the six batters he faced," said USF coach Eddie Cardieri who has led his club within a game of its first NCAA berth since 1997. "Jason in tonight's game was just outstanding and he went just as deep as he could, right at 100 pitches."
The bullpen supported both starters as Richtberg earned his second consecutive win in the opener with two solid innings. John Gorham pitched the final three innings in the evening game and allowed one single while striking out three to pick up his second save of the year.
"If we had been able to score some more runs then perhaps Gorham could have started Sunday," said Cardieri, "but there wouldn't be a ballgame tomorrow if we didn't win this one so we did what we had to do to win it."
USF (32-28) scored three runs in the first inning to take
control early in game two. Myron Leslie, who was 3-for-3 and reached base in
all five of his plate appearances, singled through the right side with one
out. A single from Daniel Boyd and a fielding error by the center fielder
placed both runners in scoring position. Mike Eylward's sacrifice fly to
center field scored Leslie and USF led 1-0.
USF used four singles in the fourth innings to add a run. Allen Shirley's single through the left side of the infield brought home Eylward who led off the inning with a single into left field.
The Golden Eagles (27-32) scored the game at 4 with two runs in the fourth and two in the fifth.
USF, though, answered immediately. Mike Macaluso started a two-out rally in the top of the sixth with a single up the middle. Ben Drawdy singled into right field and Leslie was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Boyd delivered the game-winning hit when he sent an 0-2 pitch through the left side that scored Macaluso and Drawdy and the Bulls led 6-4.
The Bulls added an insurance run in the eighth when Macaluso led off with a single to right field and moved into scoring position when via a Drawdy sacrifice bunt. Leslie's single into center field drove home Macaluso and moved USF ahead 7-4.
In game one, Bill Nahorodny homered in the bottom of the eighth inning to extend USF's season. The two-run shot lifted broke a 4-all tie and sent the Bulls into the afternoon session.