Everything was laid out for USF in its matchup with Jacksonville on Tuesday.
The Dolphins (5-1) gave the Bulls (2-2) plenty of chances to win but USF failed to score runs when it was given the opportunities and fell to Jacksonville 4-3.
Dolphins’ pitchers walked eight batters and had three balks, but the Bulls, who left 11 runners on base, couldn’t take advantage of Jacksonville’s miscues and, as a result, dropped the first of three scheduled games with Jacksonville.
“When we get our offense going the way we know it can get going, then this game will be a lot easier for us to win because we pitched it well enough to win it,” coach Eddie Cardieri said.
After giving the Dolphins four runs in the first two innings, sophomore Davis Bilardello (0-1), who made the start for USF, sophomore James Rowe, junior Yuri Higgins and senior Matt Ingram held Jacksonville scoreless the final seven innings.
The Bulls responded in the third inning, scoring two runs with two outs. After sophomore Joey Angelberger reached second base on an error and senior Brian Baisley was walked, Dolphins pitcher D.J. Ackley was called for a balk, allowing the runners to advance to second and third bases. Senior Kris Howell then hit a single to center field driving both base runners home.
But USF’s offense, which had eight of its 12 batters held hitless, including Angelberger, who is 0-for-15 in the first four games, was quiet for the next five innings as it only got two hits before the ninth inning.
“Well right now obviously our Achilles heel has been our hitting, and it’s a frustrating thing because we have guys that have been out in Division I and proven that they can hit. They had good years last year, and (they’re) getting off to a slow start. We just have to be patient with them because we know it’s going to come,” Cardieri said.
Going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Bulls trailed 4-2, but with redshirt freshman Mike Consolmagno leading off with an infield single and junior Ty Taborelli and Angelberger drawing consecutive walks, they loaded the bases with no outs.
With a chance to tie it, Baisley came to the plate but hit into a double play, which allowed Consolmagno to score. But it wouldn’t be enough as Howell then grounded out to end the game.
“We’re sitting there with bases loaded and nobody out with 4 and 5 hitting, and that’s where you want to be, and it just didn’t work out for us,” Cardieri said.
Added Consolmagno, “I thought we were going to win the game. We had our No. 4 hitter, (and) even though we’re struggling, I thought he was going to step up real big.”