The baseball team has spent the early part of its season trying to climb out of a hole.
A couple of holes, actually.
Riding a four-game losing streak and now in possession of a 2-5 record, the Bulls keep finding themselves trying to recover from early deficits in games.
Sunday at Jacksonville it was four runs. Feb. 14 against Jacksonville,also four runs.
Tuesday night it was another four runs to the University of North Florida (6-3), which the Bulls did overcome to tie the game at 5-5 in the seventh inning. However, USF lost 6-5 after surrendering a run in the top of the ninth inning at Red McEwen Field.
“We have a lot to be happy about,” coach Eddie Cardieri said. “We also have a lot not to be happy about, because it’s the little things that make the big things go well and we’re not doing the little things well enough.”
Little things include defensive pitching and timely hitting, the lack of which Cardieri attributes to a “young team.”
Left-hander Davis Bilardello (0-1) made the start, giving up four runs and six hits in three innings. Senior Kris Howell went 4-for-5 at the plate and scored the Bulls’ first run on an RBI double by second baseman Nick Cardieri.
The Bulls pulled the score to 5-3 on a two-run RBI double by rightfielder Joey Angelberger, who was batting .095 coming into the game. He felt like his hitting, as well as the team’s, was much better than in previous games.
“We got 10 hits (Tuesday night), so we’re doing something right,” said Angelberger, who went 2-for-3 on Tuesday. “We’ll turn it around eventually and start hitting more as a team – there’s no doubt about that.
“We’ll click, because one day we’ll hit and one day we’ll pitch and one day we’ll play defense. One day, we’ll get all three and click.”
USF did eventually tie the game at 5-5 after Howell got on base for the fourth time in the game. First baseman Brian Baisley drove him in on an RBI double to the right-field gap, and Baisley then scored the tying run after a throwing error by Osprey shortstop Andy Warren.
Junior righthander Yuri Higgins (0-1) had to bail Raymond Garcia out in the top of the seventh inning after Garcia left the bases loaded with no outs. Higgins forced a sacrifice fly and then struck out the next two batters to keep UNF from scoring.
The Ospreys eventually took the lead in the top of the ninth when junior Chase Lirette gave up an RBI single to Ospreys catcher Jonathan Hodach, giving Higgins the loss.
Howell relates having to catch up in games to the team trying to find an identity.
“The coaches are still looking to get a set lineup,” Howell said. “We’ve been flip-flopping around, trying to find what everyone’s role is on the team, but it either seems the hitting one day or the pitching the other. We just have to get them together for one game.”
Eddie Cardieri agreed, again stressing the youth of his program.
“This is a young team and this is a process,” Cardieri said. “Great teams all over the country are doing poorly. Miami is 6-6. Texas is 5-5. We are where we are, and we deserve to be where we are.
“But we are so close to being that team that wins these (close) games. That’s the positive. We’re not firing on all cylinders, but we’re close.”