The old baseball adage is “good pitching beats good hitting.” Of course, whoever said that never took into account that a team must field the ball as well as pitch it.
USF surrendered five unearned runs in its first two games against Louisville, scoring just two runs in a pair of defeats, but rebounded Sunday with an 8-2 win to avoid the series sweep.
USF coach Eddie Cardieri said his team played with a more positive and competitive attitude Sunday. The Bulls had almost as many hits Sunday (13) as they did Friday and Saturday combined (14).
“All I know is that we had good approaches,” Cardieri said. “One through nine in the lineup — everybody had really good at-bats all game long.”
Sunday’s big hitter was Travis Brown, who had three hits in five at-bats, including two homers. Brown’s solo home run sparked a four-run fifth inning. The Cardinals retaliated in the fifth with two runs of their own, but it was not enough, as Louisville (15-9) did not score again.
According to Cardieri, the reversal in attitude and performance will do wonders for the Bulls (18-10), who have four home games this week.
“Louisville played great; I credit their guys,” Cardieri said. “They played great, but we just looked like we didn’t want to be there, like we were going through the motions. So after (Sunday’s) game, the way we played, I think that’s a big shot in the arm, and hopefully, it will be something we can build on.”
Roles were reversed Friday and Saturday, as the Bulls couldn’t score a run, and the Cardinals were the ones who were consistent at the plate.
Errors were to blame in Friday’s 6-1 loss. Two infield errors put Louisville’s first two batters on base and set the Cardinals up to score four runs, all unearned, in the first inning off David Austen.
That was more than enough to put the Bulls away and hand Austen (6-1) his first defeat of the season.
The Bulls had five hits and scored only one run, which came in the seventh inning.
Saturday did not get any better for USF, which again dropped a lopsided game to Louisville, 5-1.
The Cardinals’ big attack came in the sixth inning, when Ron Braun homered with a man on. Two more runs were scored in the sixth when Dave Williams Jr. smacked a bases-loaded single to left.
The poor hitting and fielding were more than the Bulls’ pitching staff could compensate for.
Only eight of the Cardinals’ 13 runs this weekend were earned.
“In the three games this weekend, (our) ERA was barely over 2.00,” Cardieri said. “If you did that every weekend, you’d probably win every series. Only allowing an average of two earned runs is incredible.”
Chris Wagenheim covers USF baseball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org