Starters missing for crucial series

To say that South Florida baseball is in desperate need of all three wins against visiting Charlotte this weekend would be a dramatic understatement. The Bulls find themselves in seventh place in Conference USA with only the top eight teams making it into the conference tournament.

USF coach Eddie Cardieri said the series is crucial for the Bulls to make it into the Regional Tournament.

“We are taking this one game at a time,” Cardieri said. “This is definitely a pivotal series though.”

The 49ers are currently in a slump, losing their last 15 of 17. The Bulls need to fend off Charlotte, which is right behind USF in eighth in C-USA. The Bulls will go on to face C-USA-leading Houston and Tulane in their next two weekend series.

One kink in the Bulls’ plans circles around their starting rotation, which is in some question right now. Three-year weekend-rotation member, John Gorham, is again sidelined with a knee injury that started to plague him at the end of last season. Gorham had his right knee scoped a few weeks before the start of the 2002 season but was able to make his first scheduled start. However, the team is unsure if the surgery was able to properly fix the tear in his right meniscus. Gorham is currently hobbled with severe swelling in his knee and received a cortisone shot earlier in the week.

“It’s basically the same thing he had at the beginning of the season,” Cardieri said. “The doctor has said that it’s not likely a tear, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Cardieri also said he hopes Gorham will be able to rest through next week and be ready for the series against Houston next weekend. Gorham will see a doctor on Monday, and Cardieri is hopeful at that time the swelling will go down enough to have an MRI to determine if a new tear has formed.

Also expected to be missing from the starting slot is senior Jason Bartz, who, according to Cardieri, is suffering from pain in his right forearm where the arm tissue is rubbing against the nerve. Cardieri said that due to the fact that Bartz hasn’t throw a large amount of pitches in a few weeks, he could be used in relief if he feels up to it.

Sophomore Jon Uhl, who himself recently returned from a break due to arm fatigue, is slated to start tonight’s game at 7. Uhl is thus far the only starter who has been decided on, although according to Cardieri last Tuesday’s starter, Ryan Gloger, could be available for a start Saturday or Sunday.

The Bulls will also throw in two midweek games with Stetson at USF (one is a late addition to the schedule Thursday, May 2, at 7 p.m.) and a game at Florida, before ending the regular season in a three-game series against UAB.

“(We have to) win, baby, win,” Cardieri said. “We have a good enough RPI in the next few games if we can win, we’ll be in good shape.”