TAMPA, Fla. – The Lions opened the day with their second win in as many tries to move to 2-0 on the year, but the South Florida offense came alive in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader at the USF Baseball Stadium. Columbia won game one, 6-4, thanks to two ninth-inning runs, while USF took game two, 13-5.
GAME ONE RECAP
Junior Jordan Serena and senior Aaron Silbar each drove in a run in the top of the ninth to push the Lions to a 6-4 victory over USF in game one of a doubleheader Saturday. Columbia is 2-0 for the first time since 1999, while USF drops to 7-2.
Each team scored a run in the eighth to send the game to the final frame knotted at 4-4. First-year Will Savage got things started with a single and then moved up to second on Mike Fischer’s bunt. Serena then stood in and worked his way to a 2-2 count before slamming a double to left center to plate Savage to the go ahead run.
Michael Farley, who came on in relief for USF at the top of the inning, was able to get the second out via strikeout, but Silbar provided the insurance run when he singled to left center to bring home Serena.
Columbia hurler George Thanopoulos finished off his third inning of hitless action on the hill in the bottom of the ninth, getting a fly out and two groundouts to earn the win.
USF got on the board first in the bottom of the second. After back-to-back walks to open the inning, the Lions were able to get two outs when Levi Borders grounded out and Logan Boyher made a heads up play to throw out Luke Maglich at the plate. Luke Borders gave the Bulls the game’s first run in the next at bat, coming home on a wild pitch.
The Lions evened the score in the top half of the fourth with the top of the order doing the damage again. Serena and David Vandercook led off with consecutive singles to plant runners on the corner with Silbar coming to the dish. The senior shortstop put the ball in play, forcing a fielder’s choice situation in which Vandercook was thrown out at second, but Serena reached home safely.
A Daniel Portales’ RBI in the bottom of the fifth put USF back on top 2-1, but Columbia fired right back with two runs in the top of the sixth. Fischer led off with single and Serena reached on an error to put two on with no outs. Vandercook then stood in and laced a single to right field to tie the game at 2-2. Silbar was then hit by a pitch, forcing a pitching change by the Bulls.
Two batters after the change, sophomore Robb Paller gave Columbia its first lead with an RBI groundout that plated Serena. Nik Alfonso provided the equalizer for USF in the bottom half of the inning with a single to centerfield, evening things at 3-3.
A scoreless seventh gave way to an eighth inning that saw both squads notch RBI sacrifice flies, setting the stage for the ninth inning heroics by Serena and Silbar. Boyher earned credit for the RBI for Columbia in the eighth.
Serena finished the game 3-for-5, three runs scored and an RBI, while Silbar posted two RBI and Vandercook another and a run scored after a 2-for-4 showing at the plate.
GAME TWO RECAP
South Florida used an eight-run fourth inning to pick up its first win of the series against Columbia, posting a final score of 13-5 in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Buddy Putnam gave the Bulls an early 1-0 lead, swatting a sacrifice fly that scored Hayden Kelley. Columbia evened things up in the third inning with Savage crossing the plate after a wild pitch. The first-year had reached base on an error and then moved up to third on a Serena single.
The Bulls’ bats came alive for the first time of the series in the fourth inning, tallying eight total runs in the frame. Maglich started things off with an RBI single back up the middle that Vincent Leto followed up with a two-RBI double down the right field line. Five more runs would follow as 13 Bulls would come to the plate in the inning.
Putnam and Zac Gilcrease would each drive in runs in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, extending the Bulls’ lead to 10-1, before the Lions got back on the board with two more in the eighth.
Columbia loaded the bases with Nick Maguire singling to center with one out and Serena walking and John Kinne reaching on an error with two down. First-year Shane Adams put together a nice at bat and earned the two-out walk to plate Maguire. Joey Falcone followed with a fielder’s choice that resulted in Serena scoring and no out being made by the Bulls to keep the inning alive. USF was able to stop the Columbia spurt though, getting a ground out in the next at bat.
USF got the two scores right back in the bottom half of the inning with Leto forcing in a run with a bases-loaded walk and a Joe Altieri fielder’s choice that scored Luke Borders.
Columbia added the game’s final two runs in the top of the ninth, beginning with a Nick Maguire triple that sent Boyher across the plate. Savage picked up the last RBI, driving in Maguire on an infield ground out. Brandon Lawson earned the win for USF, while Serena led the Columbia offense again with a 3-for-4 performance. On the day, the Lions’ centerfielder went 5-for-8 with four runs scored and an RBI.
The final game of the four-game set is slated for 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon at the USF Baseball Stadium.