USF baseball handled unranked Texas-Arlington in the first day of the Coca-Cola Invitational hosted by Rice University. However, its other two games against ranked opponents proved more difficult as the Bulls were defeated twice by the same score.
South Florida (3-6) is now facing the beginning of the meat of its schedule. The first three-day weekend series starts Friday against Massachusetts, with a Tuesday game against Bethune-Cookman. BCC already has a win against the Bulls this season, beating them Feb. 15.
The Bulls now go into these weekend series waiting to find their stride.
“It’s very important that we get it going,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said. “We’ve let some close ones get away. There is no should’ve-would’ve-could’ve out here, we’ve just got to get it done.”Sunday was a prime example as Louisiana Lafayette jumped ahead with six runs through the seventh inning. The Ragin’ Cajuns went on to win 6-2. Going into the game, ULL was ranked No. 22 by Collegiate Baseball.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the seventh that the Bulls would score when Bill Nahorodny scored on a Mike Macaluso sacrifice fly. Nahorodny got on base with a single and was advanced by a Devin Ivany single and a wild pitch. The Bulls were able to score again in the eighth, when Allen Shirley hit a double, was advanced by a Chris Cuccia ground-out and then stole home.
However, the key to the game was pitching. Jason Bartz (0-2) pitched the better part of seven innings, giving up all six runs and eight hits.
“(Bartz) wasn’t as good as his prior two starts,” Cardieri said. “He got caught in a fluke play … with two on, he jammed a guy who hit a blooper over the pitcher’s mound, and the runners advanced. Mike (Macaluso) just overthrew it.”
The Bulls also took a 6-2 loss against Rice (No. 6 in Baseball America’s poll) on Saturday. Similar to Sunday’s game, Rice jumped out to an early lead. It was 4-0 in the fourth before the Bulls answered with two runs. However, the Owls would get two more before the game ended 6-2. The Bulls’ only runs came from a fourth-inning home run by Myron Leslie that scored Jeff Baisley, who had reached on a single.
The only bright spot of the Invitational was Friday’s opener against Texas-Arlington; South Florida started off with a 6-4 win. The Bulls took the lead with a four-run third inning that started with a solo home run from Nahorodny, a single from Ivany, followed immediately by a home run from Macaluso, the second of his career and second in as many games. Leslie would score on a Ronnie Handley double. Texas-Arlington would tie the game by the seventh, and the Bulls scored two more in the bottom of the eighth.
- Jarrett Guthrie covers baseball and can be reached at email@example.com