Baseball nipped by Gators

GAINESVILLE – The Bulls couldn’t get over the little things.

USF (14-12, 5-1) lost 6-5 to No. 15 Florida (18-11, 2-4) on Tuesday at McKethan Stadium, due to little things always getting in the way.

In 2005, the Bulls were the only team to sweep the Gators in all their regular season meetings, meaning USF would have had a three-game winning streak over Florida, a team that leads the all-time series between the two 42-25.

A win Tuesday would have also extended the Bulls’ five-game winning streak to six, but USF fell one run short as the Gators started off the scoring in the first on an Adam Davis home run.

That was the first little thing.

Florida pushed the score to 2-0 in the third, when, with the bases loaded, USF starter Yuri Higgins allowed only one run and struck out two straight batters.

That was the second little thing, but coach Eddie Cardieri felt his team overcame it.

“It’s the little things that decide a game like (this)” Cardieri said. “I thought Yuri did a great job of minimizing that inning with the bases loaded only to let one run in. He did a terrific job there. We came back the very next inning and took the lead and didn’t slam the door right there.”

The Bulls did not slam the proverbial door, scoring the game-tying run when Gators catcher Brian Jeroloman kicked a passed ball into USF’s dugout, allowing first baseman Brandin Daniel, who struck out on the pitch, to advance to first. Left fielder Kris Howell came home for the score. Designated hitter Matt McHargue, who also advanced to third on the play, scored when right fielder Joey Angelberger scored a fielder’s choice RBI on the next at bat.

“Nothing was easy tonight,” Cardieri said. “We had to scrap for everything. Everyone who played and pitched for both teams did a tremendous job, and when you lose a one run game like we did, it’s typical that it’s the little things that get you.”

Two more little things turned out to be a Brian Leclerc home run in the fifth and an RBI double by Davis, who finished the night with three RBI, giving the Gators the 4-3 lead.

With the game at 6-4, Daniel brought the game within one run on an RBI single in the ninth, but Angelberger and pinch hitter Brian Baisley flew out and struck out, respectively, to end the game.

“This was a tough one to swallow,” said Dexter Butler, who went 3-for-5 in the game. “Hopefully we learned a few things, that we can patch it up, because with the score, we did lose by a few little things, and with those things we learned, maybe we’ll meet up again sometime.

“We did have to scrap for every little thing we got, and this year we were in position to win the game. We were able to do it last year, but the little things got in the way this year.”

Florida, which started the season as the No. 1-ranked team and was runner-up to National Champions Texas in the College World Series, knew USF wasn’t worth overlooking, little things or not.

“We never felt USF was a pushover,” Gators coach Pat McMahon said. “We have great respect for our Florida teams. South Florida is a very well-prepared team, and I have great respect for Eddie (Cardieri). It would be very difficult for us to overlook them.”

Despite all the little things still nagging Cardieri, he was satisfied with the mid-week non-conference match up.

“I don’t have many complaints tonight,” coach Eddie Cardieri said. “We played very hard to get 15 hits against a great club like them. Nothing was easy tonight, and we only lost a one-run game.”