Baseball team fights to the end

The USF baseball team (10-6, 2-1) looks a lot like a resilient boxer this season. It loses the first few rounds, gets knocked around, but never gets knocked out. Just when it seems that all hope is gone and the fight is lost, the team rises up and delivers a couple of decisive blows to win late in the contest.

This trend continued over Spring Break as the Bulls battled to get back to more than .500 and kicked off Big East Conference play.

Down 6-2 against Savannah State nine days ago, USF belted out two grand slams in the eighth inning to win the game and snap a three-game losing streak. One day later, Savannah State was up by three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but the Bulls scored three runs and tied the game. The Bulls eventually won 9-8 in the 10th inning.

Fast forward to?Saturday when the Bulls were down 4-2 to the Seton Hall Pirates. In the ninth inning of the Bulls’ Big East season debut, clean-up hitter and junior shortstop Addison Maruszack hit a two-run walk-off home run to cap a four-run ninth that gave USF a 6-4 victory over the Pirates.

“I had two strikes on me, I was just looking to protect (the plate), then all of a sudden I got a hanging slider and I got in front of it. We need to stop making things so interesting and start scoring earlier in the game,” Maruszack said.

Then, in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, senior first baseman Joey Angelberger tied the game 6-6 with a two-run home run in the eighth inning, and junior outfielder Brandon Smith got the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth.

“I guess you could call it late heroics. This shows us that we can get it done late in the game, and we are going to need to win games like this late in the season,” Smith said. “Things are starting to gel. This team is getting some confidence.”

The Pirates avoided getting swept thanks to a 3-2 victory Sunday afternoon. The game was tied 0-0 until the bottom of the sixth, when the Bulls took a 1-0 lead after freshman outfielder Ryan Lockwood singled to right field for an RBI.

The Pirates were the ones who got the last laugh, though, as pitcher and designated hitter Corey Young singled home two runs in the top of the eight inning, giving the Pirates a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“We let this one get away. Nobody should be satisfied with getting two out of three when we had the chance to sweep (Seton Hall),” said USF coach Lelo Prado.

“It was a tough, hard-fought series. Both teams battled until the last out,” Seton Hall coach Rob Sheppard said.

The Bulls believe in themselves and never pack it in early, but falling behind and not scoring early in the game is putting USF in precarious situations. The resiliency shown so far this season is a quality that should be used, but not abused. After all, baseball is a game of statistics, and everything averages out in the long run.