The USF baseball team looked ready for a weekend of Conference USA action at practice Thursday. Two players in particular are itching to get in the lineup for the three-game series with Saint Louis.
Third baseman Jeff Baisley and first baseman Matt McHargue have been out with injuries, and depending on what the trainers say today, both might see action this weekend.
“I definitely want to play,” McHargue said.
The sophomore pulled a hamstring trying to beat out a ground ball against Southern Miss Sunday. His return would add a lot to the lineup. He is second on the team in doubles (8), home runs (5), RBIs (24) and walks (12).
If the trainers say McHargue can play — and if it were up to him– he said he would be in the game.
“It sucks sitting there and knowing you can contribute and you have to sit on the bench and wait for your leg to heal. But I should be ready. We need a sweep. We played really well on Tuesday. I think I can help the team.”
The situation for McHargue, though, is that his fate rests in the hands of team trainers and coach Eddie Cardieri.
“The trainers are going to take a look at those two (players) tomorrow, and I’ll take a look at that time,” Cardieri said. He said he is hopeful that they will both play next weekend, but he hasn’t ruled this weekend out.
And while McHargue has missed only one game with the pulled hamstring, Baisley hasn’t played since the beginning of March, missing 15 games. He said it was hard to watch his team play two games against No. 6 Miami and to have to sit through last weekend’s series against No. 16 Southern Miss.
Baisley said his foot, which he broke in a game against Illinois in early March, feels good. He started jogging on it a couple days ago but said he couldn’t sprint yet.
“I think I can either DH at the end of the weekend or get a couple pinch hits,” Baisley said. “The doctor said I could play as long as it feels good.”
The junior said he probably wouldn’t be able to play in the field, but depending on how his foot feels he may be able to contribute as early as Friday.
“It stinks,” Baisley said. “Especially playing against teams like Miami and Southern Miss, you want to get in there but you can’t,” Baisley said.
If Baisley returns, the Bulls get back Conference USA’s preseason All-Conference third baseman. Baisley started every game last season and led the club in hits.
Getting Baisley back on the field will help the Bulls defensively. His four errors in 12 starts are half as many as backup Jeremy Brand has in just as many starts.
“Those are two of our regulars,” Cardieri said. “You want to have those two in the lineup.”
Cardieri said he hopes to sweep the Billiken’s (8-17), who are coming off a 19-2 loss to Southwest Missouri State.
Casey Hudspeth will get the nod in tonight’s game instead of the Bulls’ usual Friday starter, Kyle Schmidt. Schmidt will go Saturday, but the big change in the weekend pitching rotation is Cardieri’s decision to name Chase Lirette his tentative starter for Sunday, meaning lefthander Nick Manganaro will likely work from the bullpen.
Cardieri’s decision comes after Lirette struck out five in seven innings Tuesday in the win over Stetson. He gave up only five hits and one unearned run in that outing.
Jeremy Bellotti, who was on the bench earlier in the year, has been good at the plate, Cardieri said, and took the spot from freshman Ty Taborelli. Bellotti doubled for an RBI and scored a run Tuesday against the Hatters.