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USF Advances to Gainesville Baseball Regional

For the second time in the past three years, the University of South Florida baseball team will play in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulls are the two seed in the Gainesville Regional that begins Friday at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium. For the first time since 1996, the Bulls won 40 games in the regular season and they had the best overall record in the American Athletic Conference.

History

The No. 2 seed Bulls take on No.3 seed Bethune-Cookman at 1 PM on Friday. South Florida (41-17, 14-10 in American Athletic Conference) is making its 12th NCAA Regional appearance. The teams haven’t met since last season; the last time the two faced off, the Bulls defeated the Wildcats 6-2. Joe Genord had two hits, with two RBI’s , as well as scoring two runs himself, in Bulls to the win. The Bulls hold a 58-16 lead in the all-time series against Bethune-Cookman that started in 1970. This will be the first time the two compete during the post-season.

Pitching

Right-handed senior Phoenix Sanders will start on the mound in Game 1. USF head coach Mark Kingston says he has been their number one all year and will continue to stay on that path. Sanders is 5-2 with a 3.00 earned run average on the season.  Kingston says Sanders brings a lot to the table.

Looking Ahead

The Bulls, who hit .288 as a team, will go on to play Florida or Marist. Earlier this season, the Bulls knocked off the Gators 15-10 in Gainesville.  They are led at the plate by Kevin Merrell who hits .386 on the season; he is one of four hitters in their lineup with an average of .300 or better.  But Kingston said for right now, they need to focus on Game 1.  The regional will be played through Sunday, and the winner will go on to play the winner of the Winston-Salem Regional series next weekend. The eight Super Regional winners will advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

 

About Fernando Juncadella

Senior at the University of Florida. Working at ESPN Gainesville for four years, covering Florida football, softball, and baseball.

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