Bulls looking to slay Knights

It has all the makings of one — proximity, history and parity — but USF baseball coach Eddie Cardieri stops short of calling USF-UCF matchups a rivalry.

“I wouldn’t call it that,” he said. “But it’s good competition, that’s for sure.”

As USF heads to Orlando today for game two of its three-game series against No. 26 UCF, the Bulls will be playing their fourth straight road game before they begin a three-game series versus UAB at home this weekend.

“I think it’s good that we play in the middle of the week because we each have conference games on the weekends, so it helps keep you sharp,” Cardieri said.

USF has played UCF a total of 92 times, with USF holding a 47-45 advantage. USF has played only Stetson, Miami and Jacksonville more times.

“We usually seem to have some good battles, and a lot of games are one-run games,” said Cardieri.

One of those one-run games occurred earlier this season when the Golden Knights slipped past the Bulls 8-7 on April 5 at Red McEwen Field.

In that game, the Bulls stranded 14 runners on base, including five in the first two innings. In today’s game, the Bulls might not get a chance to leave that many on base as they are facing Ray Rodriguez, a junior right-hander who is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.89.

“We’re looking at facing a really good pitcher,” Cardieri said. “Like I tell the guys, it’s going to take a good game of baseball; you have to pitch it, you have to play defense and you have to get some timely hits in order to win.”

On the mound for the Bulls will be Ty Pryor (2-2, 6.91 ERA), who hasn’t started since he gave up six runs in 2 1/3 innings pitched in USF’s 15-5 loss to Memphis on March 27.

USF (20-17, 7-4) comes in on a four-game losing streak after being swept by TCU over the weekend.

UCF (30-8, 11-4) is in second place in the Atlantic Sun Conference and comes in having won five of its last six games.

The Bulls and Golden Knights meet for game three on April 19 at USF.