Ever fall down in public and try to play it off?
That’s basically what the Bulls did Tuesday night at Red McEwen Field. USF slipped, fell to UCF (19-13, 2-1 C-USA) and now will try not to feel too embarrassed after an 11-0 loss.
The Bulls (14-16, 5-4 Big East) had just seven baserunners all game, none of whom reached third base and only made it to second base after the sixth inning.
Coach Eddie Cardieri said the Golden Knights brought an ace to the mound that may have tripped up the Bulls.
“After the weekend we had,” Cardieri said, “we picked a bad night to face a great pitcher like that. He is good. That’s a good pitcher. We knew he was good and coming on the heels of that Cincinnati game (Sunday), it just makes things that much worse.”
Indeed, pitcher Mitch Houck made a case for the figurative tip of the cap Cardieri gave him after the game. The freshman pitched a complete four-hit game, striking out eight Bulls and walking one.
USF, on the other hand, went through eight pitchers, with Jim Cassidy (2-2) making the start and recording the loss after giving up five runs and two home runs.
“He was a good pitcher for a freshman,” third baseman Dexter Butler said of Houck. “He worked both sides of the plate on us, he had good speed and good movement and all that. He was pretty good tonight.”
Cardieri and company don’t want to feel embarrassed about the tumble but are still not happy with Tuesday’s performance.
“You’re never happy when you’re on that side of things,” Cardieri said. “Tonight was one of those games where you couldn’t do anything and everyone has been on that side of that type of game. Probably more than once.”
UCF scored early on a home run by Dave Lambert in the second inning, and the Golden Knights extended the lead to 5-0 when Kiko Vazquez hit a three-run shot in the third inning.
UCF pulled away in the seventh with three more runs on bloop singles to left field and added another three in the eighth as well.
Players, such as first baseman Kris Howell, who went 0-for-3 in the game, said they felt their faces redden even after comparing it to the heartbreak on Sunday’s loss.
“This is even worse than the (11-10) Cincinnati loss,” Howell said. “I thought we would have a good game, and I can’t believe we got shut out.
“I don’t know, (the pitcher) had good stuff, but I felt sluggish from school and jet lag and all, but everyone had good pitches we all could hit. We just didn’t.”
Now, with Notre Dame (17-8, 5-1 Big East) rolling into town this weekend, USF, while disappointed about Tuesday, feels it must shrug off the embarrassment and turn its focus back to conference play.
“This is disappointing,” said Butler, who went 0-for-3 as well. “We know – I know we’re a much better team than that (here tonight). We did not show up tonight, especially the hitters.
“It’s a little embarrassing, but then again, it happens. The true test really is how we get over this and come out Friday.”
Butler said a player doesn’t forget falling down, but can push it out when it needs to be ignored.
“Anytime someone beats you like (this), I don’t think you’ll ever forget it. But I think by Friday, it’ll be out of your minds. At least, it better be,” he said.
THE WAR ON INTERSTATE 4By the numbers
8- The number of pitchers the Bulls used against UCF. The Golden Knights only used one.
0- The number of Bulls who made it past second base in the loss.
2- The number of years since the Bulls lost by more than 11 runs. USF lost to Miami 17-3 on March 17, 2004.