Bulls need to improve after rough start
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 00:02
Surrendering ten runs twice and failing to execute with runners on base are some of the reasons why USF finished 1-2 after its run at the Big East-Big Ten challenge.
To the USF baseball fan that may be having difficulty picturing the team in a flattering light after its rough start, here are some positives and negatives that may paint a better picture.
USF’s pitching staff was overmatched by No. 4 Louisville’s lineup, giving up 10 runs to the Cardinals. It was essential for USF to try to limit the Cardinals to three runs or less in order to help keep within striking distance. Doing this would have given the Bulls a better chance to stage a late comeback.
Louisville is a Big East conference rival, and going scoreless while losing to a rival team may grant Louisville a psychological upper hand in a future meeting. In USF’s case, losing by 10 may have potentially influenced players to believe Louisville’s offense is too powerful to overcome.
Eleven bulls were left on base in USF’s 12-2 defeat versus Indiana. Capitalizing on opportunities with runners on base would have helped keep USF in the game and may have had an impact on Indiana’s approach to the game. For example, if the Bulls would have scored when they had the bases loaded in the first inning, there is a possibility that pressure would have been put on Indiana to score, increasing the likelihood of its players to make the mistake of being over-aggressive at the plate.
Junior pitcher Lawrence Pardo pitched three innings and gave up one hit to the Cardinals after junior starting pitcher Nick Gonzalez and freshman reliever Justin Patrick gave up eight runs in four innings combined. It is beneficial for USF to have a reliable arm in the bullpen for late game situations that will call for shutdown innings. Pardo’s performance could be the beginning of his becoming USF’s go-to guy in the future.
USF’s loss to Louisville will not be reflected in its conference record and USF will not play Louisville anymore throughout the rest of the regular season. This means the Bulls will not have to worry about falling to the Cardinals again when conference play begins.
USF scored two runs on 14 hits, two more than Indiana, who scored 12 runs. The Bulls managed to out-hit the Hoosiers, yet scored less runs than them. This is an indicator that USF players may have been unable to handle the pressure of batting with runners in scoring position. This is something the Bulls need to work on if they expect to succeed against their opponents.
Redshirt freshman second baseman Nik Alfonso, who had an RBI in every single game last weekend, drove in one of USF’s two runs against Indiana. Alfonso collected six RBIs in the Big East-Big Ten Challenge. This means USF may have a budding offensive star on its hands. Granting Alfonso more playing time would give coaches and fans the chance to determine whether his hot hitting would trend as the season progresses.
The Bulls combined for 14 hits. This shows that hitters are not having trouble making contact with pitches and putting the ball in play.
Overall, coach Lelo Prado has plenty to look forward to as the season progresses.
Senior outfielders James Ramsay and Alex Mendez will be producing from the top of the order and serving as mentors for young players like Alfonso, and senior pitcher Joey Lovecchio will serve as his ace and adviser for potential stars like Pardo.
Alfonso and Pardo will try to make the most of their playing time in USF’s three-game road trip versus the Seminoles beginning on Friday at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee.