TAMPA, Fla. -- Northwestern and USF engaged in a tight pitcher's duel for seven frames on Friday night, before the Bulls put the game out of reach with a five-run eighth inning.
Southpaw Matt Portland started on the hill for the 'Cats and scattered just three hits and a single run over 5.0 innings of work, striking out four Bulls. Senior Nick Friar took over in relief Friday night and struck out two in a scoreless sixth, but the Bulls' bats came alive for six insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
Northwestern came into the game batting .304 as a team, second in the Big Ten, but could muster just three hits against Bulls junior right-hander Casey Mulholland, who struck out eight over 8.0 dominant innings Friday night.
The Wildcats had opportunities to tie the game in both the fifth and seventh innings, but could not put a run across in either frame. Freshman outfielder Matt Hopfner continued his torrid hitting with a leadoff single in the fifth and was sacrificed to second by Reid Hunter, but two flyouts ended that threat.
Likewise in the seventh, newcomer Joe Hoscheit ripped a line-drive single to open the frame and reached second with just one out, but Mulholland induced a pair groudouts to put the 'Cats away.
Lefty Reed Mason will make his fourth start of the season as Northwestern looks to snap its five-game skid tomorrow night as the series with the Bulls continues at 5:05 p.m. CT.
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