It was a tough weekend to be in C-USA.
Not only did No. 3 Tulane secure its spot atop the conference, the USF baseball team fell to fifth and fell hard.
In a heated conference matchup featuring key pitchers and hitters, the Bulls (20-17, 7-4 C-USA) were swept by TCU (22-10, 9-3 C-USA) over the weekend on scores of 9-4 Friday, 7-3 Saturday and 9-2 Sunday at Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth. The series was the first sweep for USF in Conference USA this season and carries the Bulls further into what is now a five-game losing streak.
On Friday, starting pitcher Casey Hudspeth struck out three but watched as his defense allowed five unearned runs on six errors. The sophomore registered his second loss of the season, but his ERA is only 3.08.
“We’ll take a look (at all the errors we made) and try to work on it during the week, but it’s not like we have a lot of moves we can make personnel-wise,” coach Eddie Cardieri said. “We and the guys who are playing just have to make those plays.”
Relievers Ty Pryor (2-2, 6.82 ERA) and Nick Manganaro (0-2, 5.95 ERA) allowed four runs in four innings as Pryor struck out four batters while Manganaro struck out one.
“Ty Pryor and Yuri Higgins pitched extremely well despite the sweep,” Cardieri said. “Tim Mattison did, as well, and it’s always good to see Ty and Yuri come out and pitch well, even though not much was backing them.”
On Saturday, the Bulls got only two runs with just one hit in six innings off of TCU starter Tim McGough, who earned his fourth win of the season.
USF right-hander Daniel Thomas — in his eighth career start — was credited with the loss, as he allowed seven runs on eight hits.
Freshman Brandin Daniel singled in two runs in the second to give USF a 2-0 lead as brothers Brian and Jeff Baisley scored from second and third, respectively.
TCU also scored in the second on an RBI double by first baseman Matt Carpenter. The Horned Frogs tied the game on an RBI single by third baseman Bo Cogbill. TCU added two runs in the third on a double by Keith Conlon. An error — the Bulls had a total of 10 through three games — by shortstop Jeremy Brand allowed the Horned Frogs to score their fifth run, extending the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth, as USF lost the game 7-3.
On Sunday, starting pitcher freshman Blake Tillett (2-1, 4.95 ERA), making his first weekend start, suffered his first loss of the season. USF pitchers Tillett, sophomore Chase Lirette, freshman James Rowe and senior Tim Mattison gave up nine runs on eight hits, but had seven strikeouts.
Mattison came in relief in the seventh inning, allowed no runs on no hits while striking out three, putting his ERA to a team-low 1.48.
Jeff Baisley went 2-for-4, which included his league-leading 18th double.
TCU scored first off on a balk by Tillett. A leadoff triple by Cogbill in the third inning put a runner in scoring position for the Horned Frogs and Tillett’s balk brought the TCU third baseman home.
The only scoring the Bulls could muster came in the sixth on a wild pitch by reliever Ryan Neslony that scored Jeff Baisley from third. Later that same inning, an RBI single by Brand brought in Kris Howell to cut TCU’s lead to 6-2, but the Bulls still fell 9-2.
“We just didn’t play well in any aspect of the game. Defensively especially,” coach Eddie Cardieri said. “We didn’t hit, but we pitched well at times. It was a bad combination for a bad recipe. It’s why we got swept.”