Seven runs in the top of the fourth inning buried the USF baseball team’s chances of achieving any kind of a comeback Tuesday night, as they fell to the Stetson Hatters 11-1.
The Hatters (27-17) got off to a quick start in the first inning when Bryan Zenchyk hit a ball to the right field fence. The hit drove in two runs, putting Stetson up 2-0. Two batters later, Zenchyk scored when Chris Cole hit a ball directly up middle, making the score 3-0. The inning ended with a grounder, and no more runs scored.
USF (26-15) tried to respond in their first time up to bat when Jeff Baisley doubled. Baisley was then driven in by a Devin Ivany double to right-center. The inning ended with two strikeouts, while two runners were left stranded on second and third.
“We had second and third and one out, now that bothered me,” USF Coach Eddie Cardieri said. “We didn’t get at least one of those runs home. We went strike out, strike out — not good.”
The next two innings were quiet, but Stetson was not finished. The Hatters padded their lead with three more runs in the top of the fourth inning when Pete Rasmusen sent the ball over the right field fence with two men on.
In the fourth inning things worse for the Bulls. After the home run, Stetson filled the bases up with no outs on the board. Ben Hall took advantage of the full bases and singled through the right side, driving in a run. On the Hall single, USF put out a runner as he rounded second base. USF junior Tim Mattison walked the next batter to fill the bases up once again. Another walk by Mattison scored another run for the Hatters, and the next batter hit a fly ball out to left field, for another run.
“I just didn’t have my good stuff tonight,” Mattison said. “I threw a couple good pitches, and (Stetson) hit it where it was pitched. All my credit goes to them. They are a good ball club. They hit the ball tonight. There isn’t much you can do about it.”
Still not satisfied, the next batter smacked a ball that hugged the right field line, which drove in yet another run. During the play, however, there was confusion at third base which resulted in a Stetson player off the bag with nowhere to go. He was eventually tagged out to end the inning 10-1.
“We just made some bad pitches,” Cardieri said. “Stetson is a good hitting club, and we can’t throw it over the (plate) belt high — we did that too many times.”
After the home run in the fourth, Mattison came in to replace Chris Delaney. Mattison, who went on to pitch another inning, had not played in a game since last Tuesday’s match against UCF.
“(Not playing) probably had something to do with it,” Cardieri said. “I would say he definitely wasn’t as sharp as he has been because he hadn’t been out there.”
Stetson went on to score just one more run, in the top of the ninth, while USF lay dormant. Stetson won the game with 11 runs on 18 hits. The Bulls managed only one run on five hits.
Chris Wagenheim covers baseball and can be reached at email@example.com