Like blips on a heart monitor, the Bulls baseball squad finds its rhythm fluctuating drastically since we last saw them. South Florida is 7-8 in their last 15 games and is now facing their last week of the season, coming off a weekend that seemed riddled with importance to the members of the team.
The outcome of the season may be in dire straits as the Bulls dropped 2-of-3 to Tulane, giving the Green Wave a firm hold on sixth place in Conference USA with an equal record as the Bulls but the swing vote with the series win. The outcome, termed simply, was backbreaking.
USF coach Eddie Cardieri’s pitching fell apart in the bookends of this weekend’s series at home against Tulane. Friday’s 15-5 loss seemed to be a debilitating blow to the Bulls C-USA record, but the rebound in Saturday’s 10-3 win showed a spark of the Bulls’ would-be resurgence. However, according to Cardieri, the 9-8 loss on Sunday may be the proverbial straw.
“This one might have been a backbreaker,” Cardieri said. “This one killed us. We don’t gain any ground. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s bad in many ways.”
The Bulls now find themselves with a game at Stetson Tuesday, while the Hatters currently have a firm hold on the Bulls’ number with a 3-1 record against South Florida this season. The bright spot may be that the Bulls close their season against the C-USA basement, UAB. The Bulls win on Saturday did clinch a C-USA tournament berth, but USF needs to find the resuscitation paddles before the conference tourney.
Here is a brief rundown of the games that you might have missed.
April 20-21 USF at East Carolina
ECU 5, USF 3
(April 20, Game 1)
USF 10, ECU 8
(April 20, Game 2)
ECU 8, USF 4 (April 21)
Strikingly similar to the Bulls’ inability to take two of three in this weekend’s series against Tulane, the Bulls couldn’t get the job done on the road against the Pirates in two of the first three during their home stretch.
Game notes: Despite the outcome of the series, Myron Leslie exploded at the bat earning C-USA Hitter of the Week honors.
He went 9-for-12 against the Pirates, and including a game against Stetson earlier in the week, Leslie had seven RBI with a home run and two doubles.
April 23 USF at Central Florida
UCF 6, USF 2
The Bulls looked flat against the Golden Knights as UCF’s Bo Hall went to 5-0 on the season. The win allowed the Knights to avoid the season sweep.
Game notes: Hall struck out nine while pitching a complete game against the Bulls. Two wins later, UCF coach Jay Bergman reached the 1,000 win plateau.
April 26-28 UNC Charlotte at USF
USF 5, Charlotte 4 (April 26)
USF 13, Charlotte 0 (April 27)
Charlotte 11, USF 6 (April 28)
The Bulls showed off their bats on April 27, demolishing the 49ers for the second straight day but were unable to sweep Charlotte at home, allowing 11 runs in the middle three innings of the third game.
Game notes: David Austen pushed his record to 3-0 on the season. Austen is fourth in innings pitched for the Bulls with 46. He has made only four starts but has had 21 appearances on the mound.
May 2 Stetson at USF
Stetson 10, USF 1
This was a late addition to the Bulls’ schedule, and a simple look at the score shows it was probably an addition the Bulls could have done without.
Stetson took a 3-1 season lead against the Bulls. USF lost its first two games of the season to the Hatters. The team’s win against Stetson this season came on April 16, when the Hatters ranked No. 22 in the nation.
The Bulls will face off against Stetson in the final week of regular season play on Tuesday in DeLand.
Game notes: Stetson scored five runs in the seventh and four in the ninth to get the 11-1 win.
The win came despite the Hatters’ stranding 11 men on base.
May 3-5 USF at Houston
USF 10, Houston 9 (May 3)
USF 9, Houston 2 (May 4)
Houston 11, USF 1 (May 5)
The Bulls had a good series in Houston, taking two from the then-No. 8 Cougars. This was an important conference series, with the C-USA leading Cougars able to avoid the sweep with an 11-1 win in the third game.
Game Notes: Kris Courier hit his second home run of the season in the May 3 game but will miss the remainder of the year due to an injury to his left wrist.
May 7 USF at Florida
Florida10, USF 9
The Bulls’ trip to Gainesville to face the No. 8 Gators ended in a 10-9 loss. The Bulls were unable to hold onto a 7-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. A disappointing loss rivaled only by the actions of some USF fans, who were removed from McKethan Stadium.
Game notes: Scott Rachlin went 3-for-3 with a double, and Ronnie Handley went 3-for-5 with his second home run of the season.
Jarrett Guthrie covers baseball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org