An angry and frustrated Eddie Cardieri was disgusted with his team Thursday night as the Bulls dropped a 9-8 loss to the Columbia Lions in the 11th inning at Red McEwen Field.
“It was very disappointing — very disappointing,” Cardieri said. “We don’t have any discipline at the plate, our pitching was terrible, we were behind in the count all night long and our hitting was worse.”
The hitting was not as bad as one would think — the Bulls had 15 hits. It was poor hitting at crucial moments that left USF (14-7) struggling all night long. The Bulls loaded up the bases more than once but failed to send anyone home, leaving a total of 19 players on base.
“I don’t even want to know how many,” Cardieri said. “That’s what lost the game. It was as bad as the pitching was. All the guys got left on base because the hitting approach is so bad right now.
“We have to figure out how to get over our anger and bounce back and be ready for the conference series this weekend.”
Things started to get interesting when Bryan Hierlmeier tied the game in the bottom of the ninth after driving in Scott Rachlin and Travis Brown when he smashed a grounder through the left side.
The 10th inning saw the best chance for a USF victory. Rachlin came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. He had a full count when he popped out to the second baseman.
“You know it’s part of the game, you try not to get too caught up in the moment and just do the job,” Rachlin said. “I’m a fifth-year senior, (and) I have been playing a long time. The emotions in this game can be overwhelming. You just try to stay within yourself and give it your best effort. Whatever happens, go with it.”
After the Lions (5-8) scored a run in the top of the 11th, it was deja vu for the Bulls. Once again the bases were loaded, two outs were on the board, and Allen Shirley was looking at a full count. Brendan Quinn took his time before he threw a high fastball that Shirley chased. Shirley struck out, ending the game.
“I didn’t think the kid had a pitch that was good enough to make me swing and miss, quite honestly,” Shirley said. “I chased a pitch that was probably a little bit high — you gotta get your pitches to hit and hit the ball well, (and) I didn’t do that.”
The Bulls play a conference series this weekend against UAB. After picking up two wins in Charlotte, the Bulls are 2-0 in the conference and have an opportunity to get off to their best start since 2001, when they started 4-1.
“It would be a great start to league play — like I have said all along, anybody in this league can beat anybody,” Cardieri said. “To get off to that kind of a start would be outstanding, and I think we have to concern ourselves right now with winning Friday’s game.”
Contact Chris Wagenheim at firstname.lastname@example.org