CLEARWATER, Fla. -- South Florida is good and well in the American Athletic Conference championship after Jimmy Herget tossed a complete game six-hitter to lift the Bulls to a 2-1 victory against No. 5 Louisville Friday afternoon at Bright House Field.
With the win, USF put itself into contention to advance to Sunday’s championship game by defeating Memphis Saturday night and Louisville defeating Rutgers Saturday afternoon. Louisville and Rutgers will play at 3 p.m. ET followed by the USF/Memphis game at 7 p.m.
“I am really proud of the team after the way we played the first day,” head coach Lelo Prado said. “To come out and beat a great Louisville team says a lot about the young men we have in our clubhouse.”
“Jimmy is good enough to pitch against anyone in America and he proved it again today.”
Louisville got off to a quick starter manufacturing a run in the first as Nick Solak scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Chittenden to give the Cardinals an early 1-0.
Luke Maglich got things going for USF in the third drawing a two-out walk and moving up to second on an Austin Luecksingle into leftfield. On a 2-2 count, Kyle Teaf tied the ballgame with a single into centerfield allowing Maglich to score on the play.
An inning later, Zac Gilcrease led off the frame with a single into leftfield on a 0-2 count and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Buddy Putnam. Luke Borders than had a great at-bat fouling off several pitches before delivering the game-winning hit to leftfield plating Gilcrease.
After the first inning, Herget really settled down for the Bulls retiring 13 in a row before Solak picked up his second hit of the game in the sixth. The right-hander dug deep striking out Jeff Gardner, the conference Player of the Year, and Chittenden to end the side.
In another key situation Herget showed his grit as he faced a first and third situation with two outs in the eighth and cleanup hitter Chittenden at the plate but again, he retired him on four pitches punching him out for his second strikeout of the inning.
USF had an opportunity in the eighth to an insurance run as Teaf and Levi Borders each singled with two outs but were stranded.
Louisville got a base hit the start off the ninth but Levi Borders quickly erased Grant Kay as he attempted to steal second base for the first out. Herget then got two outs to pick-up his second complete game of the season.
Herget allowed just six hits in the contest and didn’t allow more than two hits in an inning after the first. He struck out six including two in the sixth and eighth. In two games versus Louisville this season, he’s allowed just three runs in 17.1 innings of work while picking up 19 strikeouts and holding them to a .183 batting average against.
This was also the first time all season Louisville was held to under two runs and entered the game 30-3 when scoring in the first inning.
Offensively, Teaf and Gilcrease each went 2-for-4. Teaf andLuke Borders each picked up a RBI while Gilcrease and Maglich scored a run apiece.
In 12 games this season against ranked teams, Teaf has gone 18-for-45 (.400) including going 4-for-8 against Louisville.
Josh Rogers suffered the loss for Louisville giving up two runs on five hits and a pair of walks over six innings of work. Kyle McGrath tossed the final two innings for the Cardinals surrendering just two hits. Solak and Corey Ray each had two hits for Louisville.