USF Knocks Top-Seeded Louisville Out of Baseball Championship with 6-2 Win

CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL
HIGHLIGHTS
INTERVIEW WITH LELO PRADO
INTERVIEW WITH MATT REED

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Rightfielder Alex Mendez and designated hitter Daniel Rockhold hit key home runs and starting pitcher Matt Reed worked 7.1 strong innings to lift No. 4-seeded USF into the semifinal round of the BIG EAST Championship with a 6-2 win against top-seeded Louisville Friday night at Bright House Field.

The win puts the Bulls in the semifinal round of the tournament for the fourth time in the last six years. In order to reach the championship game for the first time, USF would have to defeat Connecticut twice, beginning with a 1 p.m. matchup. Connecticut, which defeated the Bulls 7-2 on the first day of the tournament, needs one win against USF to reach the final. Louisville (39-20) was eliminated from the tournament after the Cardinals' second loss of the day.

USF finished the regular season ranked last in the BIG EAST in batting, but the Bulls outhit the Cardinals, who were the conference's top hitting team, by a 10-4 margin. The top five hitters in the USF lineup combined to go 8-for-20 with six RBIs.

Reed, meanwhile, faced just five batters more than the minimum through 7.1 innings, scattering four hits with two walks and allowing two runs (one earned). He allowed a solo home run to Zak Wasserman in the fifth inning and was tagged with an unearned run in the top of the eighth.

USF gained an early lead as Rockhold knocked home Luis Llerna with a base hit to left-center in the bottom of the first inning. Mendez's three-run blast in the bottom of the fifth made it 4-1 after Wasserman had tied the game for Louisville in the top of the inning.

The Cardinals closed the gap to 4-2 when pinch runner Kyle Gibson came around to score after the Bulls couldn't handle Mason Snyder's grounder to shortstop. But USF added some insurance in the bottom of the eighth as Rockhold hit a two-out, two-run blast over the rightfield fence to make it 6-2.

Mendez, Rockhold and James Ramsey all had two hits for the Bulls, while Reed improved to 5-3 with the win. Second-baseman Nick Ratajczak was the only Louisville player with multiple hits as he went 2-for-3. Jared Ruxer took the loss for the Cardinals, falling to 8-2 after he allowed eight hits and four runs in six innings.

USF and Connecticut are scheduled to play their semifinal game at 1 p.m. Saturday. If USF wins, a second game would be played at either 6:30 p.m. or 8 p.m.


2012 BIG EAST Baseball Championship Schedule

Wednesday, May 23
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 1 - No. 3 Seton Hall 6, No. 6 Rutgers 1
Game 2 - No. 2 St. John's 12, No. 7 Notre Dame 2 (7 innings)
Game 3 - No. 1 Louisville 8, No. 8 Pittsburgh 4
Game 4 - No. 5 Connecticut 7, No. 4 USF 2

Thursday, May 24
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 5 - Notre Dame 9, Rutgers 0 (Rutgers eliminated)
Game 6 - St. John's 6, Seton Hall 3
Game 7 - USF 12, Pittsburgh 5 (Pittsburgh eliminated)

Friday, May 25
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 8 - Connecticut 4, Louisville 1
Game 9 - Notre Dame 4, Seton Hall 3 (Seton Hall eliminated)
Game 10 - USF 6, Louisville 2 (Louisville eliminated)

Saturday, May 26
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 11 - St. John's (35-21) vs. Notre Dame (31-26), 10 a.m.
Game 12 - USF (36-21) vs. Connecticut (31-25-1), 1 p.m.
Game 13 - Loser of Game 11 vs. Winner of Game 11, 5 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 14 - Loser of Game 12 vs. Winner of Game 12, 6:30 p.m. or 8 p.m.
(if necessary; game would be at 6:30 if Game 13 is not necessary, 8 p.m. otherwise)

Sunday, May 27 - Championship game
(live television on ESPNU)
Game 15 - Winner of Group 1 vs. Winner of Group 2, Noon

All times Eastern