The Bulls went into Tuesday’s game needing a tourniquet for the recent Conference USA losses they’ve been bleeding away. What they got was 11 runs in the first two innings.
Although they’ve dropped five straight C-USA series, the Bulls (29-20, 10-13 in C-USA) continue to live off of their non-conference schedule, which improved to 19-7 with the victory over Stetson (30-20).
“It was a good game of baseball and I hope we can carry it over to the league now because that’s where we have to make a move,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said.
Tuesday’s under-the-lights against Stetson, which cemented the Bulls’ season series sweep versus the Hatters, also gave the Bulls an 8-4 record against in-state teams, the best among all Florida schools.
The Bulls’ heavy-hitting top half of the lineup hammered Stetson pitching all night, especially hurler John DeStefano, who in his first start may have wanted to do a different kind of hurling when his bullpen got up 12 minutes into the game.
The Bulls scored 11 runs in the first inning off three different Stetson pitchers, who were given fits by the Bulls’ big four bashers, seniors Mike Macaluso, Myron Leslie and Devin Ivany, and junior Bryan Hierlmeier.
Macaluso led the team with three RBI — each of the four had at least two RBI — while junior Kyle Schmidt tossed four scoreless innings for his seventh win of the season.
“We came out tonight and swung the bats really well,” leadoff hitter Macaluso said. “I think everybody’s confidence went up tonight. Hopefully we get on a roll here in the last six or seven games and go into the conference tournament on a winning streak.”
The Bul’s resident superstar shortstop Myron Leslie went 4-for-6 at the dish, continuing to swing a hot bat as the season, and his career, wind to a close.
“It’s becoming more and more real that this is it,” Leslie said. “But now we’re just fighting to get into the tournament, so we’re not thinking about the end so much as this next game.”
The Bulls are log-jammed with UAB and Memphis — all with identical 10-13 conference records — in a tie for sixth in the C-USA standings. Only the top eight teams get into the tourney.
The next two series — including an important three-game set at UAB — will determine the Bulls’ tourney hopes.
“The opportunity is right there in front of us,” Cardieri said. “Are we going to be contenders or pretenders? It’s all up to how we play the next two weekends.”