CLEARWATER, Fla.–Seton Hall’s Sean Black isn’t the only prospect with that surname here at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. Purdue junior catcher/third baseman Dan Black is a 6-foot-4 switch-hitter with serious power–he blasted 18 homers last year and launched a towering solo shot to right field against Derrick Stultz in the fifth inning against South Florida tonight. Black is also catching tonight, and he used his cannon arm to throw out Mike Consolmagno stealing second to end the sixth inning. Six-foot-4 switch-hitting catchers with power and arm strength tend to do pretty well for themselves in the draft. I haven’t seen enough of Black to know whether he’s a good enough receiver to catch in professional ball (he’s looked fine to my eyes), but if he convinces scouts that he’s got a future behind the plate, he could rocket up draft boards.
Stultz left with a 5-1 lead after six innings, leaving the game in the hands of the suspect USF bullpen. Reliever Matt Quevedo promptly served up a solo homer to Jonathan Moore down the left-field line to make the score 5-2. Quevedo got two outs, but then the Bulls unraveled defensively, prolonging the inning with back-to-back errors from second baseman Peter Brotons (who is usually very sure-handed) and left fielder Chris Rey (ditto). That made the score 5-3 and brought up the always-dangerous Black with a runner on second. Black worked the count full, and Quevedo caught him off balance with an offspeed pitch over the outside corner, resulting in a harmless, inning-ending tapper back to the mound. That took guts for the Bulls to pitch to Black with first base open, even though walking him would have put the go-ahead run aboard. Fortunately for USF, Quevedo rewarded coach Lelo Prado for his fortitude.
Impressive freshman Sam Mende gave the Bulls some insurance with an RBI double in the seventh to make the score 6-3. USF sophomore righthander Kevin Quackenbush wriggled out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the eighth, allowing just one run to keep the score at 6-4. And let’s go ahead and add Quackenbush to my list of weekend superlatives from earlier tonight. Quackenbush definitely wins the "Best Name" category, and right now I’d say he’s the favorite to win that award on a national level as well. Hard to beat Quackenbush.
This has been the best crowd of the weekend so far, with an attendance of 1,104 according to event officials. The St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission folks are thrilled with how smoothly the event has gone so far and with how well it’s been received by fans, players, coaches and scouts. I’ve enjoyed it as well–the opportunity to see so many teams within a 15-minute drive is a treat. I’m heading up to Gainesville tomorrow to see the finale of the Louisville-Florida series, but I want to make sure to thank Scott Lowe with event organizer API and Kevin Smith with the Sports Commission for all their hospitality this weekend. Organizing this 19-team event has been a massive, two-year undertaking, and they pulled it off admirably, especially given the last-minute scrambling they had to do when Al Lange Field was damaged by a Super Bowl event.
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