Bulls look to climb over .500

BASEBALL GAME TIMEFlorida Gulf Coast (6-1) at USF (3-3)When: Tonight, 7Where: Red McEwen FieldTV/Radio: 1010 AM

The University of South Florida baseball team will face the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles at 7 tonight. The Bulls (3-3) find themselves at .500 while they try to find their identity as a team.

Solid defense and pitching will give any team a consistent chance to win. The Bulls’ pitching staff, however, has allowed 29 runs in the last three games, and the defense has recorded at least one error in each of its six games this season.

The offense has struggled with consistency as well.

USF has shown flashes of brilliance, but those flashes come because of necessity and desperation. Down 5-1 against Indiana State in the ninth inning, Chris Rey hit a grand slam to tie the game. Down 2-0 against Northwestern, USF scored six unanswered runs to go up 6-2. Northwestern then took the lead 7-6 in the seventh, but in the eighth inning, the offense woke up again and produced three straight runs.

The offense has struggled at times as well. Runners in scoring position have been stranded on base too often and the team has struck out more than 40 times this season, often with runners on base.

The Eagles (6-1), led by head coach Dave Tollett in his sixth season, come to Red McEwen Field as a hot team. The Eagles are averaging 9.57 runs a game and scored a season-high 18 against Southeastern University on Feb. 23.

The Eagles have faced Florida International University, Southeastern and the University of North Florida, universities from minor conferences like the Sun Belt (FIU), Atlantic Sun (UNF) and Division II (Southeastern), so USF will be the team’s first major test of the year.

“We have got to be ready for FGCU,” said USF’s coach Lelo Prado to gousfbulls.com. “They’re good and they have a lot of guys from Tampa, so they’ll come out motivated and ready to beat us.”