The USF baseball team (9-10) dropped its fifth straight game to Stetson 7-6 on Tuesday, though the game remained close for most of the night at Melching Field in Deland.
Bulls starting pitcher, sophomore Chase Lirette, lasted three innings on the mound, but gave up five runs on six hits, including four in the fourth inning, blowing the 4-1 lead that Tim Orlosky and Brian Bailsey added to by hitting back-to-back home runs. Orlosky’s first home run of the season was a pinch-hit three-run shot that Baisley backed up with a solo-shot.
The Hatters (10-5) took the lead 5-4 on Lirette when third baseman Chris Johnson, catcher David Golliner and shortstop Brian Bocock each hit RBI doubles. Senior Tim Mattison shut down batters for two of the four innings he pitched.
“(Mattison) came in and really worked hard to get those outs and got us out of that jam in the fourth,” coach Eddie Cardieri said. “Chase started the game for us and he did a fantastic job, despite the score.”
In the top of the fifth, the Bulls tied the game as Jeff Baisley knocked in his eighth double of the season — two more than his brother, Brian — and was walked home from third once the bases were loaded by Stetson pitchers Cameron Abel and Brandon Berlett.
Stetson brought in the go-ahead runs in the bottom of the seventh when designated hitter Jon Still put up a two-run double just inside the right field line on Mattison — one of five Hatters doubles on the night — driving home Johnson and centerfielder Shane Jordan.
Stetson was able to score first in a game for the 13th consecutive time on an RBI groundout by right fielder John DeStefano and have won six of its last seven games.
The Bulls have struggled early this season due to inexperience from the bullpen and errors in the infield. Freshman shortstop Dexter Butler was charged with his eighth error of the year, but the lineup has shown some offensive power with Matt McHargue, Jeff Baisley and Orlosky. Combined, the three batters have six home runs, 13 doubles and 34 RBI.
But Cardieri can see his team on the brink of a stretch of wins — Tuesday’s loss being the seventh game this season the Bulls have lost by three or more runs — because he knows his players are just a swing away from racking up the runs.
“It’s not that (Stetson) or any of these teams are more beatable, because we played a solid game. And Stetson is a solid baseball club,” Cardieri said. “But that’s just it. We are one big hit away from getting over that hump that seems to be in the way.”