Windy and cold are the only ways to describe the nearly three and a half hour baseball game that ended with the Bulls eking out a 9-8 win over Northwestern (1-2) on Sunday.
The game, which was played in 47-degree weather, went into the bottom of the ninth tied 8-8. With two outs, a 3-1 count and bases loaded, Wildcat reliever Chris Davidson walked shortstop Addison Maruszak, bringing home freshman Mike Consolmagno for the game-winning run.
Coach Eddie Cardieri said he’s still learning what to expect from this year’s team.
“I feel very fortunate that we won the game, especially the way the wind was blowing because it doesn’t allow the pitchers to do anything with the ball,” Cardieri said. “But it is so early in the season that there are still many things I’m learning about this team. We have proven hitters, not hitting – freshmen who we have to be patient with and let develop.
“This is a new ballgame, it’s not intrasquad anymore.”
With the win, USF (2-1) took two of three games against Northwestern, as the Bulls won Friday on the effort of junior pitcher Casey Hudspeth, who had 10 strikeouts and gave up no runs. Saturday, USF lost a 13-inning outing 2-0 that lasted more than five hours including a rain delay that lasted for an hour and 15 minutes.
The Bulls started the scoring with freshman Gus Fernandez’s first collegiate home run on his first collegiate hit. However, starter Nick Manganaro lasted only 3 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits.
USF scored three of its nine runs on wild pitches as birthday boy sophomore Dexter Butler went three for four at the plate with an RBI and designated hitter Nick Cardieri went two for four with two RBI.
Cardieri agreed with his father about the team trying to find an identity.
“We’re just trying to win, and it feels good to take two out of three this weekend against a really good team like them,” Nick said. “If you can take two out of three, you’re doing pretty good.”Butler feels as he has a tighter grip on the team’s identity.
“I think (this weekend) gives everyone a good feel for the team,” said Butler, who moved back to his original position of third base this season and drew his first collegiate intentional walk. “We knew Northwestern was a very good team. I think it’s good that we (got tested) against a team that’s not a lollipop.”