South Florida baseball closed its three-game series against Massachusetts with a 6-0 win Sunday. The Bulls took two out of three games in the series, winning 12-4 Saturday and coming one run short in a 3-2 loss Friday night.
Strong pitching propelled the Bulls to their first shutout of the season, holding the Minutemen to only five hits in Sunday’s game.
“Finally, that was a good game of baseball,” said USF coach Eddie Cardieri. “Errorless defense, clutch situational hitting and extremely well-pitched. The whole weekend was extremely well-pitched. They (UMass) ran out some good pitching, too. I am very pleased with our effort.”
Jason Bartz (1-2) got his first win decisively, striking out seven through six complete innings of work. Jeremy Fortner and Joey Livingston relieved Bartz, and neither allowed a single hit as the Bulls’ batters steadily scored six runs.
“Bartz was really good and gave us a good start,” Cardieri said. “Fortner was good aside from the two walks, and Livingston was solid there at the end. It was just very well pitched.”
The Bulls’ first run in Sunday’s game came in the third inning when a Chris Cuccia single drove in Mike Cunningham from third base. Cunningham doubled to start the inning then reached third on a throwing error by UMass pitcher Eric Chown, who took the loss Sunday. The Bulls added one run in the sixth and two each in the seventh and eighth.
Friday’s loss went to John Gorham, despite the senior’s solid 11 strikeout, eight-inning performance. A first-inning run by Mike Macaluso on a wild pitch and another run in the eighth by Kris Courier on an error by the third baseman were not enough to propel the Bulls to a win.
Saturday afternoon’s game was a different story for the Bulls. They scored 12 runs in the first three innings, and despite four unearned UMass runs in the sixth, the Bulls’ pitchers were able to hold on to the lead. Jon Uhl (2-1) received the win after pitching six complete innings, giving up only four hits.
“When you think about the weekend, (John) Gorham pitched great (Friday) striking out 11, (Jon) Uhl pitched great (Saturday) and Bartz pitched great,” Cardieri said. “Guys came in from out of the bullpen and did a hell of a job.”
Shirley sidelined with fracture
Bulls catcher Allen Shirley, who has made nine starts behind the plate, will miss the next 3-5 weeks with a hairline fracture of the fifth metacarpal in his right hand. The injury happened in Friday’s loss against UMass, when Shirley tried to bare hand a foul ball. Through the Bulls’ first 11 games, Shirley was leading the Bulls in batting with a .438 batting average and was errorless behind the plate in his nine appearances.
“It’s very frustrating. There’s no question about that,” Shirley said. “It’s aggravating. It’s just one of those fluke things. A foul tip and my bare hand got out from behind my shin guard, and it clipped right on my pinkie knuckle.”
- Jarrett Guthrie covers baseball and can be reached at email@example.com