As a young team that’s learning a lot about itself in the early stages of the season, the USF baseball team learned a valuable lesson in its 12-4 loss Tuesday night when No. 11 Florida State came to town — the Bulls aren’t quite ready for the big stage.
USF’s wildly inconsistent pitching allowed batters to reach base without swinging the bat, walking 15 and hitting three. The Bulls escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first and allowed two to reach before ending the second, but Florida State eventually broke through, scoring three in both the fourth and fifth innings.
“I told our team you’re not going to beat anybody, no less Florida State by giving them 18 free passes,” USF coach Mark Kingston said. “It’s that simple. The pitchers weren’t the only thing; we had some opportunities to score more runs than we did and we didn’t.”
Despite limiting the Seminoles to one run over the first three innings and scoring three of their own in the bottom of the third on a bases-clearing David Villar double, the Bulls quickly fell out of contention in the game.
A crucial throwing error with two outs in the top of the fourth by USF freshman second baseman Jonah Garrison — filling in for sophomore Kevin Merrell, who was out with a strained quad —allowed two additional runs to score, giving away the Bulls’ 3-2 lead.
USF starter Michael Clarkson walked nine batters before being pulled in the fourth inning in favor of freshman Dylan Burns. Burns and pitcher Kyle Cross would combine to allow eight runs over the next 4 1/3 innings.
“It’s a night that we’re continuing to learn about what we have,” Kingston said. “We’ll continue to evaluate, but 18 free passes, I’ve never seen that at any level: Division I, high school. It needs to improve one way or another.”
USF will play at Jacksonville in a mid-week matchup Wednesday at 6 p.m.