South Florida’s baseball team got off to a 0-2 start on the season after losing to Stetson in a Saturday-Sunday series at Red McEwen Field. Eight pitchers took the mound for the Bulls throughout the two-day series. The Bulls lost 7-6 Saturday and 9-7 Sunday.
“Saturday, we played a good game of baseball in every inning except the seventh when we elevated some balls and paid for it,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said. “(Sunday), we didn’t play a good game of baseball overall. Our hitters didn’t hit within the approach and the philosophy that they’re taught, and our pitchers didn’t get ahead.”
While Saturday was a beautiful day for a baseball game, early-inning rain Sunday made for a soggy start that moved into a slow trickle of runs drip-dropping every few innings.
“I didn’t think we played a good game of baseball,” Cardieri said. “We always talk about if we play a good game of baseball then we have a chance to beat anybody we play.”
Both teams got a run in each of the first two innings, including a run by USF freshman catcher Devin Ivany, who went 3-5 on the day with a double and a stolen base. Ivany would get another single in the second, earning his first RBI of the season, while scoring again in the seventh.
However, a struggling Jon Uhl gave up six in the first four innings and eventually took the loss in the Bulls’ second defeat.
“For Jon Uhl, it wasn’t a quality start and not something that he’s happy with I’m sure,” said Cardieri. “He wasn’t comfortable. That wasn’t good for him.”
Not all of the Bulls’ pitching staff showed signs of struggle in Sunday’s loss, as sophomore Jeremy Fortner pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing only three hits from 15 batters. Freshman Bubba Ingram had a strong first outing for the Bulls, retiring all four batters he faced that day.
“Bubba Ingram did a heckuva job for a freshman, retiring everybody that he faced,” said Cardieri. “Jeremy Fortner did an excellent job holding them and keeping us within striking distance and had a chance to win.”
Livingston ended as the Bulls’ pitcher for the second consecutive day. Stetson’s starter Mike Wiley received the win, and Andy Wilson earned his second save after coming in to relieve from second base again, as he did Saturday.
In the season opener, a six-inning pitching stalemate gave way to a tourniquet-needing 12-run gusher in the seventh inning. Solid defense seemed the early mantra of both teams as senior USF pitcher Jason Bartz led the Bulls’ first five innings from the mound, allowing only two hits and one walk.
“We received an outstanding start from Bartz,” Cardieri said. “He gave us a great chance to win the game. He was very good.”Correspondingly, Stetson’s senior pitcher Brian Sullivan pitched superbly, allowing only one hit through six.
Then the seventh inning happened. With two outs in the top half, the first blood was drawn when a single from Stetson designated hitter Chris Cole scored third baseman Brian Snyder, who had reached base on a single. From there, the Hatters hit around, scoring five more before the inning ended, including a two-run home run from Andy Wilson.
The Bulls responded in the bottom half of the inning, scoring six runs of their own as six consecutive Bulls reached base and scored, starting with a single from sophomore Myron Leslie, which was followed by a two-run homer from senior designated hitter Chris Cuccia. The game remained tied through the ninth before a single by Stetson’s Bryan Zenchyk pulled senior pitcher John Gorham from the mound on a bare-handed catch that he couldn’t handle.
Zenchyk would later score after sophomore Joey Livingston relieved Gorham. The Bulls were unable to score in the bottom of the tenth.
- Jarrett Guthrie covers baseball and can be reached at email@example.com