It wasnt the ideal way for the Bulls to end their home stand, but the USF Baseball team got a reality check that could change their season in a 6-2 loss to Stetson just two nights before heading on their first road trip.
I hope we can build on (the loss), coach Lelo Prado said, Ive told them, theyve got 24 hours to get this out of their head and be ready to play against Cincinnati on Thursday night.
The Bulls appeared to be sluggish, coming off just one day of rest after a testing series against Notre Dame over the weekend. Their lack of rest was evident from the start of the game, as the Bulls went 5.1 innings before picking up a hit. They ended the game with four hits.
We went eight innings with one hit, Prado said, You cant win many games with one hit, and this is a regional game. You got to come in ready to play in games like this.
Senior Matt Reed got the start for the Bulls and worked through six tough innings, allowing four runs on four hits, with one walk and one strikeout. Devin Smith and Mike Clarkson combined to allow three hits and two runs. Six runs would prove to be more than enough for Stetson.
The Bulls struggled on offense all night, a big step down from their recent success. It was just the second time in the last 13 games that the Bulls failed to score fewer than three runs, and it took all of their effort to avoid their third shutout of the season.
Entering the bottom of the ninth inning, USF was in the midst of a one-hit shutout. Chad Taylor and James Ramsay singled with one out, bringing Zac Gilcrease in with the chance to plate the first run of the game.
The freshman delivered with an RBI single to center field, which scored Taylor. Todd Brazeal chipped in with an RBI double to reach the final margin of 6-2.
We got some hits in the bottom of the ninth, but that doesnt really mean anything, Prado said. Weve got to start out a lot better that this.
The loss ends USFs streak of six wins in seven games but, because it came out of conference play, it will not bump them from second place in the Big East. According to Prado, however, success in the Big East is not enough.
Were playing well in conference, but weve got to play well on Tuesday nights, too, Prado said. Weve got to play well every night. Im just disappointed in the overall performance, but hopefully we can build on it and move on.
Prados squad will need to make a quick turnaround, as they head to Ohio for the first of eight consecutive road games Thursday night at 6:30.
The team will need to get used to playing in front of a more hostile environment. The Bulls have only played one road game this season, and will be playing 16 of their final 25 games on the road.
Well thats why our home games are so important, thats why every time we play a game its important, Prado said. Now we got a lot of road games, and weve got to be ready to play and weve got to be able to bring it every night.
The Bulls will play their next home game on April 20, which will mark the start of a three-game weekend series against the Louisville Cardinals.