After getting swept by Florida Gulf Coast to open the season, the USF baseball team flipped the script this time around. With support from its young players and pitching staff, the Bulls swept Florida A&M in a four-game series over the weekend.
The Bulls (4-3) allowed just 13 runs, showing vast improvement as well as flashing their talent offensively. USF scored 34 runs in the four games.
“The big thing we stressed all week was no free passes, attack the strike zone and limit the free passes, and those guys did a very good job [of that],” coach Billy Mohl said.
Freshman Jack Jasiak pitched the entire seven-inning game Friday and picked up his first win of the season in allowing two hits and striking out nine.
The Rattlers (0-8) got on the board first after scoring one run in the top of the fourth inning, but USF came back with four runs in the bottom half.
Freshman Matt Ruiz and redshirt sophomore Roberto Pena got on base to start things, followed by a three-run home run from redshirt junior Riley Hogan. The Bulls won 3-1.
The second game was a 13-0 blowout.
Continuing the trend of the young players on the team shining, redshirt sophomore pitcher Brad Lord tossed seven shutout innings and the Bulls’ bats took care of the rest.
Ruiz hit a home run in the second inning while also leading the team in RBIs with four, and freshman Drew Brutcher hit his second home run of the season.
“They’re freshmen, they’re going to go on ups and downs, right now they are on a pretty good high,” Mohl said in reference to Ruiz and Brutcher. “But they are two mature players who [have] handled the little adversity they have had so far, they’ve handled it well, they come out and they just want to play.”
The Bulls and Rattlers were in a close contest in Game 3 until the USF offense scored five runs in the fifth inning.
Redshirt junior Riley Hogan led the way with three RBIs, including a home run in the first inning. Redshirt freshman Carmine Lane also hit his first home run of the season in the first inning.
The Bulls won the final game of the weekend 9-8 in walk-off fashion with freshman Keanu Jacobs-Guishard tying the game with a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, followed by a single from Hogan a couple of batters later to drive in the winning run.
“I’ve been really, really excited about all of our freshmen,” Mohl said. “They come, they’re ready to play, the stage isn’t too big for them. Watching Keanu there tie that game up, watching the energy and excitement on his face, he’s going to be a really good player for us.”
Mohl also praised the overall effort.
“It was a complete team effort there’s no doubt about that … we got production up and down from all kinds of different guys this weekend,” Mohl said. “I thought the pitching [was good], I thought Jack and Brad Lord were really good, I thought Baron Stuart showed who he’s capable of being.
“Lots of good things, [but also] still a lot of things that are a work in progress that need to be ironed out.”
The Bulls will hit the road for the start of a three-game series against Stetson from March 7-9, including a game at home Sunday.
The home game against the Hatters on Sunday is set to start at 4 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN+.