Bulls sweep first-place Cards
Ryan Gloger didn’t strike out any batters in his seven innings against Louisville on Sunday. Instead, he relied on the gloves of his teammates to earn his second win of the week. Gloger led the Bulls to a 19-4 win against Army March 25 and ascended the mound again six days later to help the Bulls to a 7-2 victory, this time against conference leader Louisville on Sunday.
“(These wins were) huge,” Gloger said. “I think last weekend (at Memphis) we let a couple get away from us. All week Coach (Eddie Cardieri) has talked about what a big week it was. I think he did a real good job of preparing us. I think the team knew how important this was.”
But Gloger had to live up to the two previous days, as the Bulls swept the Cardinals, moving from the middle of Conference USA to second place.
“I just feel like I’ve improved each time out,” Gloger said. “At the beginning of the season … I was like, ‘that’s not me pitching out there,’ so I made it a goal that each time out to get better.”
Gloger walked three Sunday, giving the Bulls a total of three walks in the series. All weekend, the Bulls’ pitching and defensive play was the highlight of the series, despite the Bulls allowing Louisville 37 hits.
Gloger had to follow some strong pitching from three-year weekend rotation starter John Gorham. Gorham also threw seven innings Friday, leading the Bulls to a 9-7 win. Gorham, who has been dubbed by Cardieri as the Bulls’ “warrior,” struck out five in his fourth win of the season.
Jason Bartz made the start Saturday and went 7 2/3 innings, but left the game after a bit of trouble had the Bulls trailing 5-2. Keith Strickland (4-0) got the win in relief after the Bulls scored seven runs in the bottom of the eighth, including a two-run home run by Mike Barclay.
“We had three quality starts with just three walks all weekend,” Cardieri said. “We had timely hitting, and we had a beautiful team attitude. This was just a big series for us because it puts us up there at the top instead of in the middle of the pack, and we were able to separate ourselves from some teams and, I think, gained some confidence.”
The three wins put the Bulls in a second-place tie with Southern Miss, Charlotte, Louisville and TCU in the C-USA standings with an overall 17-11 record and a 6-3 conference record.
“I told the team that they are writing a resume for the NCAA committee and you have to have a good resume for those people to read when it comes selection time,” said Cardieri. “We’re starting to do that, and we’re starting to play some pretty good baseball.”
The Bulls’ hitting didn’t take the weekend off either, as six doubles, two home runs and 37 singles proved the USF bats were alive. Kris Courier introduced himself to the Bulls’ home run club this season with a grand slam during Friday’s game. Mike Cunningham went 7-for-13 in the series, including 3-for-3 with a double Sunday.
“I think our whole team played well,” said Cunningham. “I’m just glad we have come together and we could beat Louisville after opening the conference season 3-3.
“It feels good to get into second place, and now we can try to get back on top of the league.”
- Jarrett Guthrie covers baseball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org