Bulls hold on in DeLand

Stetson 8, USF 10

A Brian Hobbs grand slam in the first inning Tuesday night helped propel the South Florida baseball team to an early lead – and its second straight victory.

The Bulls (17-18, 6-9) scored five runs in the first inning en route to a 10-8 victory over the Stetson Hatters.

Hobbs – who struggled during the early part of the season – has hit two home runs in the past three games. He has also been more disciplined at the plate. Hobbs has struck out only twice in the past three games, after striking out 29 times in his first 30 games.

Hobbs’ grand slam came as a result of a Brandon Smith single, Joey Angelberger being hit in the ribs by a pitch and centerfielder Ryan Lockwood reaching first base after an error.

“He (Hobbs) had a great performance tonight,” USF coach Lelo Prado said.

Prado has said numerous times during the season that it was very important for the Bulls to have Hobbs playing well.

Hobbs proceeded to capitalize on the Hatters’ 14th error in the past four games by getting a 3-2 pitch over the left-center field wall. The Bulls batted around the order during that inning and stretched the lead to 5-0 when Chris Rey – who went 3-for-5 and fell a triple short of the cycle – worked an 0-2 count into a 2-2 count and then hit the ball to the same spot Hobbs did.

The junior right fielder – who went 1-for-3 with four RBIs and two strikeouts – saw his day end unexpectedly in the sixth inning after being hit by a fastball in the elbow.

He was pulled out of the game when he grimaced his way to first base and clutched his elbow.

“He is fine,” Prado said after the game. “We took him out as a precautionary measure.”

Mike Consolmagno, who was getting ready to pinch run for Hobbs, was the recipient of a strange call by the home plate umpire, who decided that he was an “injury replacement” instead of a pinch runner.

As a result of the decision, USF lost the automatic walk and Consolmagno had to act as a pinch hitter. Consolmagno then struck out to end the inning.

Stetson’s freshman starter Will Dorsey lasted only 1 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, striking out three and allowing five unearned runs. Dorsey got ahead in the count against almost every batter he faced, but couldn’t get his strikeout pitch to work.

Matt Stull, who is 3-1 for the season, pitched six innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out three.

Stull also contributed defensively, chasing down a bunt and flipping the ball over to first baseman Joey Angelberger to record the second out of the sixth inning.

USF had a 10-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Hatters made a late rally attempt, forcing closer Shawn Sanford out of the bullpen for a suspenseful ending.

Stetson scored five runs in the inning, aided by the USF’s only two errors of the game, and had the tying run at the plate.

Sanford, however, forced a pop out to shortstop Addison Maruszak to end the game.

“The ninth inning brought back some bad memories, but Shawn did a great job and gave us the victory, which is all that matters,” Prado said.