Pro Hockey News

Sunday, May 28, 2023

No. 15 ECU Ends South Florida’s AAC Postseason Run

CLEARWATER ( – The University of South Florida (21-39) had its NCAA Regional dreams dashed and season come to an end on Saturday night as the top-seeded and No. 15-nationally ranked ECU Pirates (45-16) handed the Bulls their second loss of the day in the American Baseball Championship semifinals.

ECU outlasted South Florida in a pitcher’s duel on Saturday morning, 3-1, and the Pirates out-slugged the Bulls in an elimination game later in the day, 14-7.


The eight-seed South Florida entered Saturday’s tournament semifinals in the winner’s bracket looking to repeat its Cinderella run of 2021 when the Bulls became the first six-seed to win the conference tournament. USF began its 2023 tournament run with a six-run rally in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s opening round to defeat ECU in extra innings, 12-11, and toppled rival UCF in run-rule fashion, 15-4 on Thursday, to set up Saturday’s rematch with ECU.


USF raked up 38 hits over the first two games of the tournament before behind held to two in Saturday’s opener and bounced back with 11 in the finale.


The Bulls and nationally-ranked Pirates played six times over the last 10 days with USF and ECU concluding the regular season in Tampa last weekend.


“I’m proud of how our guys performed over the last few days in a grueling tournament, but at the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done,” said head coach Billy Mohl. “ECU won the regular season championship and is nationally ranked for a reason, and we went to battle with them three times this week. Tip your cap to them. They are deep on the mound and continued to give us different looks today to keep us off balance and outlast us.


“This wasn’t the year any of us wanted to have, but we showed what we are capable of this week. Our pitching staff had its ups and downs all season, but each of those guys contributed this week to put us in position in the winner’s bracket. Our offense was a bright spot this year and the young guys in our lineup really shined.”


In game one The Pirates plated the first run of the day in the bottom of the fifth inning before Jackson Mayo (St. Johns) knotted the score with the Bulls’ first hit of the day – a solo homer in the top of the sixth.


ECU immediately answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and held off another late USF rally in the ninth inning. The Bulls loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth after Bobby Boser (Wesley Chapel) led off the frame with a double, but were unable to push any runs across.


Nolan Hudi (Safety Harbor) allowed three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts over 6.0 IP in the loss.


“Hudi gave us all we could ask for in the opener,” Mohl said. “I thought it was an incredible outing, he gave us a chance, and he set us up well in the bullpen for the next game. We felt good knowing we had all three of our weekend starters available later in the day if need be.”


In game two The Bulls and Pirates combined for 17 runs on 18 hits over the first four innings of the elimination game.


RBI-singles by Travis Sankovich (Uniontown, Pa.), Boser and Drew Brutcher (Lakeland) staked USF to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second inning. The Pirates responded with a two-out grand slam, which was originally ruled a double but overturned on replay, to quickly tie the score in the bottom of the frame.


USF answered with a two-run homer by Ben Rozenblum (Coral Springs) and a solo blast by Sankovich to make it a 7-4 ballgame. Rozenblum and Sankovich each tallied their first home runs of the season in the top of the third inning.


ECU cut its deficit to 7-5 in the bottom of the third after Ethan Brown (Winter Garden) relieved starter Hunter Mink (Palm Harbor). The Pirates proceeded to plate five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and never relinquished their lead.


“Hunter pitched well for us against ECU on Tuesday and Ethan gave us everything he had,” Mohl added. “Ethan was coming back from a shoulder injury a month ago which we thought might cost him the rest of his season, but I give him all the credit in the world. He wanted to be out there and he wanted to help us win.”



  • True freshman Eric Snow (Forsyth, Ga.) finished the season with a .343 batting average to lead USF and match Brutcher for the team lead with 45 RBI.
  • Brutcher concluded his junior campaign with 34 career home runs – tied for sixth all-time in program history.
  • Boser ended his sophomore season with a .323 batting average (second on the team) while riding a career-best 17-game hitting streak. His 15 home runs in 2023 are tied for ninth-most in USF single-season history.
  • The Bulls belted 74 home runs in 2023, their most since hitting 91 in 1996.
  • USF played 13 games against Top 25 opponents in 2023 and tallied three wins.