Seton Hall finishes sweep of No. 20 South Florida
For the third time in two days, junior Brian Gilbert was on the mound getting the last out of a victory over No. 20 South Florida to complete the series sweep. The Pirates extended the nation’s longest winning streak in the nation to 12 games and improved to 33-16 overall and 16-5 in the Big East.
“This is huge for us,” Gilbert said. “We are playing our best baseball going into the conference tournament and this is where we want to be right now.”
In order to ensure the win though the Hall had to wait out a two hour rain delay as thunderstorms rolled over Owen T. Carroll Field. The sirens for lightning in the area went off with one out in the top of the eighth inning and a Bulls runner on first base.
“We’re all like ‘we just want to get this game in,'” Gilbert said. “Finishing it up the way we did is all that matters, getting that win.”
The delay did not bother the Pirates as they quickly got the last two outs in the eighth before Gilbert came in the ninth and recorded three straight groundouts.
“I was teasing (Gilbert) earlier in the day saying he had the day off and he told me ‘absolutely not,'” head coach Rob Sheppard said. “He was ready to go, it was a good pitching performance from our staff today.”
Seton Hall opened up the scoring in the third with freshman Zack Weigel drawing a walk and senior Scott Kalamar scoring him from first on a drive to left-center field.
South Florida came back the next half inning and put runners on second and third with one out. Chris Norton hit a grounder through the middle to score the runner from third and send the runner from second around third but senior Zack Granite threw out the Bulls base runner at the plate. USF added another run in the next inning as well.
Down 2-1, junior Chris Selden led-off the inning with a single just under the glove of the diving shortstop. Selden stole second base before Weigel hit a single to the left fielder, moving Selden to third and Weigel advancing to second on the play. With Kalamar at the plate, back-to-back wild pitches allowed Selden and Weigel to score. Kalamar also crossed the plate in the inning on a double from senior Giuseppe Papaccio, his 54 double in his career setting a new Seton Hall record.
“A thing our guys have done a real good job of lately is answering,” Sheppard said. “When we give up runs the last few games we have had consistent effort getting those runs back right away.”
A two run lead was all the Pirates needed as starter Josh Prevost went 6.2 innings with senior Rick Mangione, sophomore Conor Krauss, freshman Sam Burum and Gilbert closed out the Bulls.
The series sweep sends the Pirates into the final weekend of the regular season with a chance to win the Big East regular season title.
“We have such a tight bond together,” Gilbert said. “The more we win the tighter we get and even if we hit a rough patch we are going to stay together.”