Everything clicked for the USF baseball team in a 14-inning battle against Florida, on Tuesday night.
The Bulls (6-3) left Gainesville with a 13-12 loss, but there was only a vibe of pride from USF coach Eddie Cardieri following the game.
The Gators clinched the game on a walk-off single to center field by Justin Tordi that scored Jake Riordan.
“I had the same speech prepared for the team whether we won or lost,” he said. “I’m damn proud of them. That’s for sure.”
The Bulls had 24 hits, nine of them counting for extra bases.
The number of hits led to USF leaving 15 men on base.
“We had our chances, but I don’t necessarily think 15 left on in 14 innings is an (exorbitant) amount,” Cardieri said.
Leading the charge for the Bulls on the offensive side, was Ronnie Handley.
Handley had four hits, scoring four runs with two home runs and two doubles.
“He’s been swinging good,” Cardieri said. “You can never tell what to expect a guy can do. He had a great ball game offensively and defensively.”
The Bulls had good defensive production from several players, keeping USF in the game and carrying the contest to 14 innings.
“It was 14 innings and a great game to win and a tough game to lose,” Cardieri said. “I’m really proud of our guys. It was a see-saw battle. We had some defensive gems that got us out of innings.
“It was just a great game, and I’m very proud of how our guys competed.”
The Bulls got a boost from second baseman Mike Macaluso when he came in for Mike Choquetta in the eighth inning.
Macaluso had three pu touts, three assists and was part of two double plays, including a diving catch in the eighth.
“He’s probably about an inch taller than Cho(quetta),” Cardieri said. “It was a great play, but it wasn’t the only one. There were so many.”
USF also got support from the mound, using six pitchers, and throwing a total of 10 strikeouts.
The number of pitchers used will not affect USF’s weekend rotation because of the limited amount of innings each pitched.
“They weren’t used enough to burn anybody,” Cardieri said. “It was right at the limit that they’re used to throwing and everything.”
Senior David Austen started for USF, pitching four innings, allowing nine hits and eight runs.
Tom Potter picked up the win for the Gators (9-1), pitching five innings while throwing six strikeouts.
The Bulls’ next game is against Central Michigan at 7 p.m. in Tampa, Saturday.
Cardieri expects the same kind of production from the team that he had against the Gators.
“I think we played just how I expect this bunch to play,” he said. “They have a lot of heart and a lot of confidence. That game right there can teach us a lot.”