USF pitching overpowered by explosive Gators offense

USF ended its season series against No. 1 Florida with another loss Wednesday night.

The Bulls (5-7) were outhit at home in front of a record crowd of 3,211 in an 8-1 loss.

With both No. 1 starter Randy Fontanez (illness) and No. 2 starter Andrew Barbosa (forearm) unavailable to pitch, coach Lelo Prado put the ball in senior Junior Carlin’s hand.

Florida struck first in the second inning with a two-run home run by Mike Zunino during a two-out rally. On the very next pitch, the Bulls gave up another home run to deep left by Josh Adams.

The Bulls countered in the bottom half of the inning, scoring their lone run via a solo homer by freshman James Ramsay that bounced off the new scoreboard. The Bulls loaded the bases in a potential rally, but Carlin struck out to end the inning.

“We have to score with runners in scoring position,” Prado said.

Carlin’s start was his first as a pitcher since 2008. He lasted 4.2 innings, allowing four hits and three earned runs, while striking out four Gators.

“We can win with guys like Junior Carlin,” Prado said. “We need more out of those guys. I only wanted to use him three (innings), but he didn’t want to come out. Pitching isn’t our problem.”

The next three innings went scoreless, with Florida continuing to hit it deep but to no avail. The sixth inning saw Florida score again with two outs via another two-run home run, this time by Daniel Pigott. Pigott entered the game batting .500 and went 3-for-4 on the night with two doubles and two RBIs.

When USF managed to get on base, poor base running prevented any rally. The Bulls got eight hits, but gave away base runners by trying to take extra bases.

First baseman Todd Brazeal was thrown out at third base trying to tag up on a shallow fly to right field in the third inning.

Left fielder Alex Mendez delivered a base hit down the left field line in the seventh inning, but was caught being greedy at second base by trying to turn a single into a double.

“I don’t know what we were doing on the bases tonight,” Prado said.

No matter what pitcher USF put on the mound, Florida continued to get on base. After Trey Dahl began the seventh with a strikeout, the Gators hit a double and a single to score one run before Dahl managed to get out of the inning with two fly ball outs.

Zach Pietrzyk came in to pitch the eighth inning, but allowed two runners on base to be driven in with a two-RBI single by pinch-hitter Zack Powers.

Kevin Quackenbush pitched a scoreless ninth inning to stop the bleeding, but by then it was too late.

The Bulls face Evansville in a three-game series at home beginning Friday at 7 p.m.