As USF baseball (11-8) begins conference play this weekend, coach Billy Mohl is searching for consistency from both his pitching staff and offense in order to compete with the top teams in the AAC.
The Bulls host Cincinnati (6-13) for a three-game series Friday-Sunday at the USF Baseball Stadium. Despite the up-and-down start to the season, Mohl is focused on the most important part of the Bulls’ schedule — conference play.
“A new season begins [Friday],” Mohl said. “It’s kind of a blank slate and it’s when games actually matter.”
The Bulls have shown better consistency in the batter’s box as of late, hitting .256 as a club, but it’s the two freshmen — Dylan Buck and Nick Gonzalez — that Mohl is counting on as the team gets into conference play.
“We need those new guys to be consistent moving forward,” Mohl said. “As a freshman there is no scouting report on you … you have to adjust your approach and learn on the go. You can talk about it all you want but until you are in the heat of the moment, it’s something [Gonzalez] and Buck are going to have to develop.”
It isn’t just the offense where Mohl needs more consistency and production. He’ll look to pitchers Alec Wisely (2-2, 3.18 ERA) and Collin Sullivan (1-0, 3.54 ERA) for even more productive outings.
“Alec Wisely and Collin Sullivan have been really good for us,” Mohl said. “Wisely’s first outing of the year was a bit shaky but he has gotten better ever since, going seven innings in his last two starts.”
While Mohl has been pleased with both Wisely and Sullivan, he continues to search for a reliable third and fourth starting pitcher. The candidates for Sunday and midweek starter have been out with injuries.
“The third guy is Ben Koff,” Mohl said. “He has been dealing with a nagging injury. He is our Sunday guy. Baron Stuart has been out for a little bit with a pinched nerve in his elbow, but we are expecting to have him back in the next week or two.”
Getting both Koff and Stuart back from injuries could be the solution to what Mohl says is one of the problems with his starting rotation.
“Midweek is kind of a black hole for us right now,” Mohl said. “We are trying to find someone.”
With the AAC filled with very competitive teams at the top of the conference, Mohl knows to compete, his young players need to produce and his veterans need to stay consistent.
“This whole league the past few years, the top-four teams have been separated by a 1.5 games,” Mohl said. “ It’s tough up and down … we have shown we have the ability to go up against anybody.”