Bulls drop second straight

Florida Gulf Coast 5, USF 4

It was the bottom of the ninth and the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (7-1) were trying to hang on to a 5-4 lead that was being threatened by runners on first and second with no outs. The crowd was on its feet as Ryan Lockwood, USF’s leadoff hitter, was at the plate. Lockwood tried to bat softly to third, but the Eagles executed a perfect defensive play to get the out at third.

“We have to be able to play small ball if we want to win,” USF coach Lelo Prado said.

The next batter, first baseman Brandon Smith, hit the ball sharply, but it twisted right into Eagles shortstop Victor Rodriguez’s hands for an easy 6-4-3 double play that ended the game.

“We had only five hits tonight. We can’t expect to get that kind of production and then win the game in the eighth inning,” Prado said.

The Bulls (3-4) had a fresh face on the mound, as sophomore left-hander Teddy Kaufman made his season debut.

Kaufman had a decent outing, going five innings and allowing four earned runs. He allowed seven hits and got into a couple of jams with runners on first and second with nobody out, but worked out of them and never allowed the Eagles to have a big inning, keeping the Bulls in the game.

Gulf Coast starter Pete Woodworth – who was recruited by USF in 2005 – pitched 6.1 innings, allowing three earned runs and throwing 105 pitches.

Woodworth was rocky in the first two innings, hitting two batters and allowing all three of his earned runs while throwing 46 pitches.

The early innings of the game provided plenty of offense, as a strong wind carried everything to left field.

Gulf Coast first baseman Jason Peacock put the Eagles ahead in the first inning with a wind-aided two-run home run to left field. Peacock finished the day 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two strikeouts.

USF answered quickly with a run in the bottom of the inning. In the second inning, back-to-back doubles by Lockwood and Smith gave the Bulls a 3-2 lead.

The Eagles, which had a consistent offense throughout the game, scored runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings.

USF didn’t score between the third and the eighth innings, mustering only two hits.

Leadoff men were vital for both offenses Tuesday night, as seven of the nine men who started the innings off with a hit or a walk for either team ended up scoring.

Addison Maruszak led off the eighth inning with a walk and scored to make the score 5-4, but with a runner on third and two outs, Joey Angelberger couldn’t bring in Mike Consolgmagno to tie the game at five.

“We didn’t execute tonight, but we will bounce back tomorrow,” Lockwood said.

Up next for the Bulls is a showdown with Bethune-Cookman University tonight at 6 in Daytona Beach. The Bulls finished their seven-game homestand 3-4, and getting a little taste of the road may be all they need to start turning things around.