South Florida baseball improved to 12-9 on the season after defeating Vermont 12-7 Tuesday night. The Bulls utilized 18 hits to handle the Catamounts (2-6), led by a 5-for-5 hitting performance from Ronnie Handley, who had four singles and a double with two RBI.
“(Handley) has been swinging the bat well and laying off of the off-speed,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said.
Handley’s five hits tied a USF record. He failed to leave the on-deck circle in the Bulls’ last at-bats in the eighth, missing a chance to break the record held by 22 other Bulls. He improved his batting average to .429 on the season.
“I had a couple good hits,” Handley said. “You got to take them where you can get them. It looks good in the scorebook.”
The Bulls took the early lead-in with a two-run first inning after a single from Handley, which scored Jeff Baisley, who reached on a single, and Myron Leslie, who reached after being hit by the pitcher.
Leslie was hit for the 10th time on the season and second of the game in the eighth inning.
The Catamounts responded in the top of the second with two runs of their own. The Bulls would answer with four and score in every inning except the seventh. David Austen (1-0) got his first win, pitching five innings and giving up three runs on five hits. The outing was Austen’s first starting appearance and his first decision despite seeing some pitching time in eight previous games.
Baisley added three hits of his own to the Bulls’ win and had four RBI. The freshman third baseman has started all 21 of the Bulls’ games and is batting .364.
“(Baisley’s) hitting extremely well, especially for a freshman,” Cardieri said. “He had a little lull for a while, but lately he’s been doing a great job.”
Mike Cunningham was 2-for-3 at the plate from the ninth slot with two RBI, one coming in the four-run second inning on the Bulls’ first triple of the season.
Though the Bulls scored 12 runs, Cardieri said that he was upset by the amount of Bulls that were left stranded on base. In all, 13 base runners where left uncounted under the runs column on the scoreboard. The Bulls left the bases loaded on two separate occasions during Tuesday night’s game.
“Disgusting. I was very upset with leaving what we did on,” Cardieri said. “We had bases loaded, nobody out in two straight innings. One run out of those at-bats wouldn’t have been able to cut it in a tight game.”
Catcher Allen Shirley relieved starter Devin Ivany for the eighth and ninth innings. Shirley has missed the last two weeks of action with a broken bone in his right hand. Shirley wasn’t expected back until this weekend’s series at Memphis.
“With Allen, we feel we have three real good catchers,” Cardieri said. “Catching every day takes its toll, so we’re glad he’s back.”
Mike Macaluso left Tuesday’s game in the second inning when he dislocated a finger on his left hand. Macaluso has started all 21 games as the Bulls’ second baseman.
- Jarrett Guthrie covers baseball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org