The numbers don’t lie, or do they?
Bulls baseball has had statistical advantages before, but history has shown that USF does not have a sure win this weekend when they travel to St. Louis University for a three-game conference series.
The Billikens have an 11-15 record, with a 3-9 record in Conference USA. But SLU’s wins have been against such teams as The University of Evansville, which is 12-19, and Harris Stowe State College, which is 5-16.
SLU has lost some tough conference games to Southern Miss (24-9) and TCU (20-15) who are at the top of the conference standings, but they have also lost to teams such as Charlotte (13-14), who are at the bottom of the conference.
“I think they are like Jacksonville. They had several of their first games canceled due to weather, and they got started later than all of us,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said. “They haven’t gotten into a groove yet, but they beat Louisville two out of three on the road, who beat us two out of three.”
The Bulls are statistically better than the Billikens, but USF was also statistically better then Columbia University, to whom they lost 9-8 on March 20. The Lions are 13-15, have a 2.92 batting average and a 7.27 ERA. SLU has a .267 batting average, a .359 on base percentage, and the second worst ERA in the conference (6.07).
Another factor that might come into play is that the Bulls will be away from home. USF has struggled away from home, dropping 5 of 9, but three of those losses came against powerhouses Miami and Florida. The Bulls lost all three by two runs or less.
“This comes with the territory,” Cardieri said. “You have to play half of or your conference games on the road, and we have to be prepared to play just as well on the road.”
With what looks to be a clear advantage, the Bulls could be 8-5 in the C-USA by Sunday, and maybe even 11-5 by next week. That too could be possible if the Bulls sweep the Billikens this weekend and then sweep the University of Cincinnati next weekend at home. An advantage may be clear this week, but the advantage is even clearer next week, because the Bear Cats are 9-21 overall, and 3-9 in Conference USA.
Chris Wagenheim covers baseball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org