USF 6, Stetson 5
The skies cleared up completely over Red McEwen Field for the USF baseball team to play its delayed game from Tuesday against Stetson (25-17, 12-9 Atlantic Sun), and the extra day off might just have helped the Bulls grab the 6-5 win over their in-state foe and another milestone for coach Eddie Cardieri.
“Having great players really got (the win),” said Cardieri, who got his 700th career victory as head coach of the baseball team with the win. “If you have great players like I’ve had through all the years that I’ve had. And the more years, the more great players. And those players win (the games) for you. It’s just another milestone that happens.”
USF (25-21, 10-7 Conference USA) took an early lead in the game with RBI singles by senior rightfielder Bryan Hierlmeier and redshirt freshman Joey Angelberger.
But the Hatters — third in the A-Sun conference — scored three runs in the very next inning with two outs on RBI singles by Adam Tindle, Shane Jordan and Brandon Paritz.
Angelberger tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the second with an RBI single, scoring center fielder Jeremy Bellotti.
Freshman starter Ty Pryor pitched six innings — his longest outing of the season — and gave up three runs on eight hits with a strikeout and two walks, advancing his record to 3-3. His counterpart, Stetson starter Cy McCuen (2-1), pitched only one inning and gave up two runs, but did not suffer the loss.
“Ty Pryor made one of the greatest starts ever,” Cardieri said. “He pitched a whale of a ballgame.”
The Bulls broke the tie in the third, when with the bases loaded with catcher Brian Baisley, designated hitter Jeremy Brand and first baseman Brandin Daniel, shortstop Dexter Butler hit into a fielder’s choice double play that scored Baisley from third.
USF added a run in the fifth on an RBI single by third baseman Jeff Baisley — who’s batting .383 with 67 hits and 51 RBI with his one hit in the game — that scored leftfielder Tim Orlosky from second.
But Cardieri knew the Hatters would not go away without a fight.
“We jumped out early offensively, but this team, Stetson — forget it. They are batting .340. I don’t think there is a guy in the lineup that isn’t hitting under .300,” Cardieri said.
Bellotti misplayed a single by Chris Johnson allowing Stetson’s fourth run to score, but he was able to end the inning on a close call with freshman Blake Tillett relieving Pryor on the mound on a diving catch with runners on first and third.
“You’re not going to get every call every time,” Tillett said. “All I can do is hope that the defense will pick it up behind me, which they did.”
USF scored the decisive run when Stetson rightfielder John DeStefano extended the eighth inning by dropping a sliding catch on the foul line, allowing Orlosky to score the team’s sixth run and his third of the game.
Orlosky led the offense, going 4-for-4, to raise his average to .319, which is second only to Jeff Baisley.
Tillett gave up one run — two earned for the game — in the ninth to bring the score to 6-5, but Cardieri called upon pitchers Chase Lirette and James Rowe to get two outs, and they did with one pitch each. Rowe picked up his fifth save of the season.
“Blake pitched exceptionally well,” Cardieri said. “Then for Chase to come and throw the one-hitter and for James to throw the one pitch, those moves really worked out.
“They all knew what to do. They had a game plan. It was really refreshing to see them execute that game plan.”