All season, the baseball team has been lacking home runs. When it finally managed to hit the ball out the park Sunday at Trees Field, it wasn’t enough to get the win.
Despite USF (19-22, 8-10) hitting five home runs, Pittsburgh (17-21, 6-12) beat the Bulls 11-9 to win the three-game series 2-1.
Coach Eddie Cardieri wasn’t surprised his team was able to hit so many home runs.
“It’s a really small ballpark, and the wind was blowing out,” Cardieri said.
Senior catcher Brian Baisley, who started Saturday for the first time since March 17 against Connecticut, agreed that the conditions helped but also felt the home runs were well-earned.
“All the home runs were well hit,” Baisley said. “It wasn’t like they were cheap home runs, but the field is small and the wind was blowing out, so that helped.”
The Bulls got off to an early lead after freshman Gus Fernandez and senior Kris Howell hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning.
The Panthers scored five runs in the second inning to take the lead, but USF regained the lead in the third inning when Baisley hit a two-run shot and senior Matt McHargue hit a solo home run.
“We were in a good spot to win, (but) they hit good pitches,” Baisley said.
With three of the five home runs coming with nobody on base, Cardieri wished the Bulls could’ve scored more runs off the long balls.
“I wish we had more men on base when we hit the home runs,” Cardieri said.
A three-run fifth inning gave USF a 9-5 lead after Baisley scored on a fielder’s choice and sophomore Joey Angelberger hit a two-run home run.
But Pittsburgh answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning and rallied for five more runs in the eighth inning to give the Bulls the loss.
“We were in control of this game,” Cardieri said. “It just got away from us there in the eighth inning.”
Sophomore Davis Bilardello lasted five innings in the loss and gave up six runs on six hits.
“(Bilardello) pitched well,” Cardieri said. “He had one crooked number – a five-run inning against him – but other than that, he pitched very well.”
Junior Yuri Higgins, who received the loss, gave up four runs in his relief action.
“(Higgins’) first two innings were outstanding,” Cardieri said. “They didn’t touch him. And then he walked a couple guys, and they got to him a little bit.”
Games one and two were both played Saturday due to a rainout Friday. The Panthers won the first game 7-1. USF won the second game 5-3 thanks to a grand slam by sophomore Brad Karns in the ninth inning.
Cardieri was glad to get at least one win in the series but hoped to win two or three.
“I’m definitely disappointed that we didn’t win two out of three,” Cardieri said. “But (I’m) definitely happy with the effort today.”