The South Florida Bulls took the rubber match of the series Sunday winning a 7-3 tilt over the Valparaiso Crusaders.
In a series plagued with misreads by Crusader outfielders, USF tallied its first run when ninth-place batter Zac Gilcrease hit a fly ball to left field with two outs that carried over a drifting Michael Morman. Ruled a hit, the play scored designated hitter Luke Maglich who had reached on a clean double two batters earlier.
Shortstop Kyle Teaf immediately followed with a single up the middle for the Bulls' second run. USF led 2-0 after four innings of play.
Back-to-back singles by Morman and Bryce Hara set up a sacrifice opportunity for catcher Billy Cribbs in the visiting half of the 5th. Head coach Tracy Woodson called a hit-and-run, and though Cribbs whiffed on the delivery in the dirt, Morman advanced to third base. With runners on the corner and no one out, the Crusader backstop grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Morman scored on the twin killing to cut the Bulls lead in half 2-1.
The USF bullpen again provided heartburn for skipper Lelo Prado when Alex Vetter was called upon for his first appearance of the season. The junior walked the first batter he faced. Valpo was content to give up an out when Andy Burns squared around to sacrifice bunt Cribbs over to second base. But the first delivery got away from Vetter and struck Burns on the foot. Chris Manning sacrificed Cribbs and Burns to give Vavra the prime RBI opportunity.
Vavra subsequently grounded out to short to bring in Cribbs and tie the game 2-2. With Burns on third base, designated hitter Andrew Bain tomahawked a Vetter pitch down the left field line for an RBI double. The two-bagger gave the Crusaders their first lead of the game at 3-2.
Pitching with the lead for the first time in the ballgame, DeBoo coaxed a groundball out of Teaf, the leadoff batter in the home half of the 7th. The grounder befuddled Vavra, who was tagged with his second error of the game. DeBoo retired Mendez via an infield pop out and then Ramsay on a comebacker for what should have been the second and third outs of the inning.
But the leadoff error would prove costly. Jimmy Falla hit a long drive to left field that flew over the fence at USF Baseball Stadium. Falla's first home run put USF back on top 4-3. Pinch hitter Anthony Diaz roped a single to left to continue the Bulls attack. Catcher Chris Norton followed with a towering two-run homer to left field to extend the USF lead to 6-3.
DeBoo was pulled after the second home run of the inning in favor of lefty Mike Jacobs.
Jacobs was greeted with similar hospitality, allowing an Austin Lueck solo home run. In total, the Bulls pushed five runs across on three home runs in the dreadful 7th inning.
USF (7-8) held on for the 7-3 victory, taking the weekend series in Tampa.
DeBoo (0-4) finished the day with only two of six runs allowed earned. He surrendered nine hits and walked none while striking out two.
"We've got to learn to close out games. It's disappointing to lose two out of three games when you have the lead in all three games," Woodson said after the game.
Valparaiso fell to 4-10 with the defeat. The Crusaders begin their final swing of the spring trip Tuesday against Navy.