Friday Gem Vs. ND Is Third In USF History
TAMPA, FL– Even the league coaches that voted for Randy Fontanez as Preseason BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year couldn’t have predicted an opening-performance like he turned in on Friday night.
Fontanez threw the third no-hitter in University of South Florida baseball history and downed Notre Dame (8-13, 0-1), 4-0, in front of the largest crowd of the season at Red McEwen Field. The no-hitter was the first for the Bulls (9-13, 1-0 BIG EAST) since Mark Reed threw a perfect game 18 years ago (March 1992) against Charlotte.
“It was incredible,” said an exhausted Fontanez, who was mobbed by his teammates after striking out pinch hitter Casey Martin to end the game. “I never imagined that this would happen. I didn’t realize what was happening until the ninth inning. I thought that someone would get dink one on me.”
Fontanez collected a career-high 12 strikeouts and earned his first victory of the season.
What makes historic events, like Fontanez’s no-hitter even more memorable, are the moments when the stars align and the entire crowd knows they are on the verge of a record breaking performance.
On this night, that moment would come with two down in the top of the eighth. Irish batter Cameron McConnell ripped a hard one hopper off of the shoulder of USF third baseman Daniel Rockhold. The ball caromed to shortstop Jonathan Koscso, who fired to first to retire McConnell and keep the hitless effort intact.
“After that play, I knew I had some luck,” said a grinning Fontanez.
Fontanez allowed only two Notre Dame base-runners through the first eight innings, one on a walk, and one on a catcher’s interference by Eric Sim. At one point, Fontanez retired 13 straight Irish batters.
The pitching was not the only thing that went well for the Bulls, as all but two USF starters collected a hit, including home runs by Jonathan Koscso and Daniel Rockhold.
Junior outfielder Junior Carlin went 2-3, including a RBI single in the bottom of the third to extend his hitting streak to nine games.
Catcher Eric Sim went 1-3 on the night and is now 15-36 (.417) in his last nine games. He has raised his batting average to .323.
The Bulls got the scoring started early on when Koscso battled to a full count, and took a 3-2 fastball deep over the left-field wall for the home run, his first of the season. The homer gave Fontanez and the Bulls an early 1-0 lead. The lead marked only the second time in 2010 that Fontanez pitched with a lead.
After a 1-2-3 inning from Fontanez in the top of the second, Carlin led off with a triple and would come around to score on a single by Sim.
In the bottom of the third, Sam Mende singled through the right side, stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Notre Dame catcher. With one out, Carlin singled to score Mende.
With a 3-0 lead, Fontanez and his defensive counter parts went to work and shut down the Irish lineup. Fontanez did not allow a base runner from the fourth inning until the top of the ninth when he issued a one-out walk to Greg Sherry.
Rockhold tacked on the Bulls fourth run with a solo home run, his fourth of the season, in the eighth inning.
Due to pending weather expected to hit Tampa Bay area on Sunday, both sides agreed to move Sunday’s game up. The teams will play a day-night double header on Saturday with the first game slated to start at 3 p.m. at Red McEwen Field with the second game to start shortly after.
Tonight’s Attendance was 1,048, the biggest home attendance of 2010… USF has now won nine straight conference openers… Earlier this week legendary Notre Dame Football coach Lou Holtz, father of USF Football coach Skip Holtz, spoke to the Bulls…Junior OF Ryan Lockwood was hitless in five at- bats and had his 10-game hit streak snapped… Fontanez’s 12 strike outs marks a career and is the second most strikeouts by a USF pitcher this season… Fontanez threw just 119 pitches on the night, 80 of which were strikes… Offensively, USF collected 10 hits, which marks the fifth time in six games that the Bulls have recorded double-digit hit totals… As a team, USF is now hitting .282… After missing six games with a broken jaw, sophomore Sam Mende returned to the line-up as a designated hitter and went 1-for-3 with a run scored… Mende leads the team with a .341 batting average … Fontanez did not allow the lead-off man in any inning, while the Bulls put the lead-off man on in five of the eight innings… Fontanez’s no-hitter is the sixth nine-inning no-hitter in BIG EAST History and the first since April 20th of 2007, when Scott Barnes of St. John’s no-hit Georgetown… On the season, opposing hitters are hitting just .217 against Fontanez and lefties are hitting just .187… The no-hitter marks the first of USF pitching coach Lazer Collazo’s coaching