South Florida “Not Done Yet”

The South Florida Bulls celebrate their regional-clinching victory over South Alabama in Gainesville on Monday. (USF Athletics)

Coach Billy Mohl called Monday’s 6-4 regional-clinching victory over South Alabama a “gutsy” win.

There have been a lot of those of late for his USF Bulls.

Monday’s win followed a rain-shortened Sunday in which a 4-0 loss to the Jaguars had to be completed early Monday afternoon, which set up a winner-move-on final game.

An 8-7 win over UCF to capture the American Athletic Conference championship got underway at noon on a Sunday, about 11 hours after the Bulls’ previous game against Tulane went well past midnight.

So whether it was having to withstand late starts — and very, very late finishes — during the conference tournament in Clearwater or enduring the repeated inconvenience of Mother Nature in Gainesville, the Bulls charged on undeterred.

The result is USF will travel to Austin to participate in the program’s first-ever Super Regional, which is college baseball’s Sweet 16. Mohl’s Bulls go up against the host Texas Longhorns (No. 2, 45-15) with the first game in the best-of-three matchup scheduled for Saturday at 9 pm ET on ESPNU or ESPN2. The second game and, if necessary, the third game will be Sunday.

“We’ve got a group in that locker room that believes in each other, and plays for each other,” said Mohl, following the win over South Alabama. “There was no quit in them, despite all the rain delays and that first loss to South Alabama.”

The Bulls have also caught fire when it matters most. Following a 24-26 regular season that included a 14-14 mark in conference play, the Bulls defeated Wichita State, took two of three from Tulane and then beat UCF to claim their first conference title since winning the Metro Conference in 1995.

In the regional, USF made program history by defeating the host Gators, rolling past Miami and winning the second of two games against South Alabama.

As great as this ride has been, though, it is no time to be content. Instead, this group of Bulls feels the journey is just beginning. And who can blame them? After all, the Bulls have won seven of nine since the end of the regular season and have demonstrated a knack for coming up with the big hit or big pitch at the right time.

Want proof? How about Monday’s clincher when Joseph Sanchez came on in relief of Orion Kerkering (superb 4 ⅓ innings in relief to pick up the win) to get out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the eighth with the Bulls clinging to a one-run lead?

Sanchez would record the first save of his career.

“This is such a special group of guys, and they’ll forever be remembered as the team that got it done,” said Mohl. “But, as they’ll tell you, they aren’t done yet. They want to be the first team to get to Omaha, and we have the leadership in that clubhouse that believes in that.”

Tom Layberger is also a contributing writer for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.