TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 15, 2004) - South Florida scored five runs in the final two innings to blow open a tight game and defeat East Tennessee State, 8-2, Sunday afternoon from Red McEwen Field in Tampa, Fla. With the win, the Bulls swept the season opening three-game series from the Bucs.
The Bucs opened the scoring, taking their first lead of the series in the top of the first. Senior All-Southern Conference shortstop Andy Howdeshell (Maryville, Tenn.) hit his first homer of the season with a blast over the left-center field wall with two outs.
South Florida came right back to take the advantage with three runs in the bottom of the first. Second baseman Mike Macaluso led off the inning with a triple to center field then right fielder Ryan Hierlmeier was hit by a pitch and third baseman Jeff Baisley walked. Catcher Brian Baisley then singled to right center to drive in Macaluso and Hierlmeier. Designated hitter Kris Howell singled to left center with two outs to score Jeff Baisley. The damage could have been worse if not for a spectacular diving catch of a foul pop-up by junior first baseman Ryan Spriggs (Crossville, Tenn.).
ETSU cut the Bull lead in half with a run in the top of the third. Sophomore third baseman Greg Roberts (Douglas, Ga.) reached on an error and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior left fielder Richie Billings (Leesburg, Fla.). After a walk by sophomore right fielder Shane Byrne (Johnson City, Tenn.), Howdeshell came through again with a two-out RBI single to left field.
The Bucs had an opportunity to tie the game in the top of the sixth. Sophomore catcher Blake Church (Roswell, Ga.) led off the inning with a single up the middle, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore second baseman Josiah Glafenhein (Knoxville, Tenn.). But Church was able to get no farther than third as USF starter Nick Manganaro was able to retire the final two Buccaneer batters of the inning.
East Tennessee State again had runners in scoring position in the seventh, with runners on first and second with one out and the bases loaded with two outs. But the Bulls brought in reliever Matt Ingram, who recorded strikeouts for the final two outs of the inning to hold the Bucs scoreless.
USF widened their lead to 4-2 with a run in the bottom of the seventh. Howell led off the inning with a single to left field, then advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt. The next batter, first baseman Matt McHargue, singled to right field, scoring Howell.
South Florida put the game away by scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth. The big blow of the inning was a three-run homer by McHargue that also scored left fielder Travis Brown and Howell. Howell reached base on a single to left field earlier in the frame that drove in shortstop Myron Leslie with the first run of the inning.
Manganaro (1-0) earned the win for USF, pitching 6.1 innings while allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and striking out three. ETSU senior starter Tim Turner (Marietta, Ga.) was charged with the loss (0-1) after also pitching 6.1 innings, and allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and striking out two. After pitching 2.2 innings of scoreless relief and striking out five Buccaneer batters, Ingram earned his first save of the season for the Bulls.
Sophomore center fielder Matt Traylor (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Howdeshell led the Buccaneer attack with two hits each while Howdeshell drove in both of ETSU's runs.
USF was led by Howell, who had three hits and two RBIs and McHargue, who had two hits and four RBI for the Bulls.
"Today was a game of missed opportunities," said ETSU head coach Tony Skole following the game. "Ultimately what cost us the game was our inability to drive in runs. Tim (Turner) pitched great, we just could not score enough runs to get him a win."
East Tennessee State returns to action with a two-game series at Georgia on Tuesday and Wednesday, both games starting at 4 p.m. Live stats will be available on the University of Georgia athletic website, www.georgiadogs.com.