South Florida baseball coach Eddie Cardieri’s order that no players hang their heads probably didn’t make anyone take the final any better after losing the rubber game in the three-game series against TCU 7-6 on Sunday.
The third game started off with USF pitcher Ryan Gloger giving up four earned runs in two innings before being relieved by David Austen, who started the third. TCU added another run in the third before the Bulls scored one in the fourth.
“The way the game started was just terrible for our guys, because we had two outs and nobody on and they scored three,” Cardieri said. “I told them, ‘Don’t a guy here hang their head, because there’s nothing to hang your head about.’ They battled as best they could and it didn’t work out.”
At the end of the eighth inning, the Bulls looked to have the same resurgent late-inning rally they used to defeat the Horned Frogs on Saturday.
In Game 2 Saturday, the Bulls scored three in the ninth to rally 6-5 on a game-winning single by Scott Rachlin that scored Mike Macaluso. The Bulls used four hits in the ninth to get three runs and surge past TCU.
“They were all big-time at-bats,” said Cardieri.
“Leslie getting the walk to get that last inning going, Baisley singling, Hierlmeier coming off the bench cold and stealing second, Barclay getting that double, Ivany singling to keep it going and then, of course, Handley singling to win the game.
“I think I just named 10 guys,” Cardieri said. “Every guy on the team really did a good job battling. Every single guy battled.”
Sunday, however, the three runs the Bulls added to the scoreboard in the eighth only tied TCU, and a split-second decision allowed what would be the winning run to cross the plate.
The play came on a slow, one-out, bases-loaded dribbler down the third base line, and allowed TCU’s seventh run when Jeff Baisley went for the double play, and the Bulls only got one out.
“That play is the third baseman’s option,” Cardieri said. “The rule is that he goes where the ball takes him, (and) I thought the ball took him in.”
“It was a hell of a play just catching the ball because of the way it was spinning.”
“He could have gone home and maybe have gotten one out, but he went second and then first and if we would have turned it everyone would have said, ‘Great play,'” Cardieri added.
The Bulls dropped Friday’s game 6-4. The Horned Frogs were led by a two-RBI triple from shortstop Will Lewis.
Jarrett Guthrie covers baseball and can be reached at email@example.com