Two weeks into the season, USF baseball coach Eddie Cardieri is still trying to set his starting rotation. While senior David Austen has firmly entrenched himself as the Bulls’ ace, the rest of the puzzle remains a mystery.
Junior Jon Uhl was supposed to anchor the staff after carrying USF (8-4) at the end of last season, but his three starts this season have been a mixed bag. Around a no-decision against Southern Illinois Feb. 22, when he pitched six innings and yielded one unearned run, Uhl has picked up two victories, but failed to stand out in either. He surrendered four runs in five innings in both outings, relying on the offense and bullpen to get the victory.
“David Austen’s pitched extremely well, and Jon Uhl’s pitched well, even though he’s not had a Jon Uhl-type outing,” Cardieri said. “Other than that, we’re still looking.”
USF’s newcomers have struggled to adjust as they try to find their roles. Freshman Jon Kio’s two starts have been painful, resulting in a 22.50 ERA for the left-hander from New York. Against Florida A&M, Kio went two innings, surrendering seven hits and six runs, four of which were earned. Kio started again Saturday vs. Central Michigan with worse results, lasting one inning and giving up five runs on four hits.
Southern Illinois roughed up tonight’s starter, freshman Chris Delaney, in his first collegiate start Feb. 23. The hometown product from Sickles High School made it through 3 1/3 innings, but not before the Salukis pounded out six runs on nine hits.
None of those numbers have discouraged Cardieri from letting his freshman get back on the mound.
“Delaney has done exceptionally well for a freshman,” Cardieri said. “Delaney’s shown he can get the job done. Kio’s shown that he’s not quite ready yet, and we’re going to have to keep developing.”
The plan against Bethune-Cookman (2-11) is to let Delaney start, with as many as four relievers set to pick up the slack.
However, the Bulls’ hitting has rescued the team every time.
“The guys are just swinging the bats great,” Cardieri said. “I think our team batting average is around .340 (actually .348) right now. Considering who we’ve played, that’s great. They’ve bailed us out and given us a chance to win every game.”