The first six games of the baseball season have not been pretty to USF.
A three-game sweep by Jacksonville (7-1) and a 13-inning 2-0 loss to Northwestern has left the Bulls with a 2-4 start – a beginning to the 2006 season coach Eddie Cardieri wasn’t quite expecting.
“From our standpoint, we just haven’t gotten our offense going yet,” Cardieri said. “When guys like (junior pitcher Casey) Hudspeth and (sophomore pitcher Daniel) Thomas have such great stuff and give up some runs, then it just credits the other team. (Jacksonville) just had a great lineup.”
After USF succumbed to four home runs and while Hudspeth gave up a career-high 10 runs on eight hits through 4 2/3 innings in Saturday’s 11-6 loss, the Bulls were down 2-0 early Sunday on Thomas’ start, which resulted in an 8-4 loss.
Thomas earned his first loss of the season after allowing seven runs on eight hits and striking out five. The Dolphins, who are riding a five-game winning streak, watched USF cut a 3-0 lead down to one in the top of the fifth on RBI singles by Mike Consolmagno and Jim Cassidy.
In the bottom of that inning, USF gave up four runs on an RBI single by Thomas LePage and a three-run double by Mike McAllister.
After the fifth, the Bulls could only rally two more runs, while first baseman Brian Baisley went 2 for 4 with a double.
Cardieri admits miscues in the fifth allowed the Dolphins to stack the score.
“In that particular inning,” Cardieri said, “there was a pop-up that fell in fair territory with the wind blowing really hard. We’re fielding a young lineup and it was just a miscommunication where we let the ball drop. (Miscues) haven’t been a consistent problem for us, just today.”
Cardieri also admits his team – which consists of 20 freshman and sophomores on a 32-man roster – is very young, and while the Bulls are off to an atypically slow start, Cardieri says hitting has been slow out of the gate. The team is posting a batting average of just .230.
“We’re still trying different combos and playing different guys,” Cardieri said. “Hopefully we’ll win on a lineup here before too much longer. Sometimes it takes guys a while to get going. Either they start slow then get hot, or they start off hot and then cool off, or some guys are consistent all year long.
“(We’re missing) clutch hitting. We have to be better at the situational hitting because our biggest thing is hitting with guys in scoring position.”
Cardieri says he’s not happy with the 2-4 start, but says there is still plenty of time for a turnaround.
“The way we’ve played, we’ve kind of deserved it,” Cardieri said. “I’m optimistic we’re going to start playing better. It’s just six games. We still have 50-plus games left and (a) tournament.
“I’m not going to concern myself with 2-4. I’ll see where we are after 10 or 20 games and then where we are conference-wise after that, because they only remember how you finish.”