USF starting pitching was ineffective until David Austen started Sunday, holding Central Michigan to its lowest run total of the weekend series.
The USF baseball team beat the Central Michigan Chippewas 13-2 Sunday behind the arm of Austen. He struck out seven in seven innings, giving up no runs on three hits.
Austen was pulled out after the seventh inning, and Steve Palinkas came in to finish the game, allowing two runs and four hits. A USF shutout became impossible after a questionable call declared a CMU runner safe at home plate with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Catcher Allan Shirley was visibly upset by the call, drawing a warning from the umpire. Even though the Bulls did not get the shutout, Austen did what he set out to do.
“From a staff standpoint, I knew I had to come out here and shove because we got chewed pretty good for our performance (Saturday),” Austen said. “If we didn’t do our job (Sunday), we’d have been in trouble.”
Pitching was a concern after dropping the game to the Chippewas 12-9 Saturday. Freshman Jon Kio started Saturday, pitching one inning, allowing four hits and five runs while facing eight batters. Four more pitchers went to the mound, allowing a total of 11 hits and seven runs with six strikeouts.
“It was (Saturday) that I didn’t think we pitched well at all — we addressed that,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said.
Friday’s relievers, Matt Ingram and Mike Yeager, were able to shut out their batters, but starter Jon Uhl in five innings gave up the only runs (four) and hits (five) of the game. However, Uhl picked up the win after the Bulls beat the Chippewas 14-4.
“Jon Uhl struggled, but he pitched well enough to win — five strikeouts, five walks. He did all right,” Cardieri said.
Because of the pitching Friday and Saturday, the Bulls had to step up at the plate, and the hitters responded well. In five at-bats Friday, Jeff Baisley had three hits, three runs and one RBI. Bryan Hierlmeier combined for four hits, three runs and four RBI in 10 at-bats on Friday and Saturday. The solid hitting carried on into Sunday’s game but may have been overlooked due to the pitching.
“I am really, really pleased with our hitters — with their approach at the plate and the adjustments that they’ve made,” Cardieri said. “It was something like seven of our 12 hits were for extra bases. We walked eight times. We had a very good day at the plate — I’m very happy with our approach today.”
The 2-1 series for the Bulls moves their record to 8-4. Cardieri said he was pleased with that mark but feels it could be better.
“After the first 12 games, I wish we were two games better,” Cardieri said. “I definitely think we should be two games better than we are, but we’re not, so we’ve got to deal with it.”
Senior second baseman Mike Macaluso saw a doctor Thursday, who diagnosed a fractured first rib. Due to the injury, Macaluso will not play for the rest of the season and will apply for a medical redshirt to regain his senior season.
“It’s very saddening, but that is the way it is,” Cardieri said.
Chris Wagenheim covers USF baseball and can be reached at email@example.com