USF loses season series against Florida Gulf Coast

After another loss to Florida Gulf Coast University, it seems the USF baseball team’s in-state foe has its number.

FGCU beat USF 9-5 at Swanson Stadium in Fort Myers for its second victory over the Bulls this season, with USF falling to 1-5 all-time against the Eagles.

After the Bulls (9-12) went down in order in the top of the first inning, Florida Gulf Coast leadoff hitter Stephen Wickens was hit by a pitch and later scored on a sacrifice fly to left field by Zach Maxfield to take an early 1-0 lead.

The Eagles (12-9) scored two more runs in the bottom of the third, courtesy of a two-run homer to left-center field by catcher Tim Roberson.

Things got worse for the Bulls in the bottom of the fourth inning.

After first baseman Jimmy Falla’s fielding error allowed Mike Reeves to reach first base safely, the Eagles’ No. 8 hitter Brandon Bednar drove in Reeves with an RBI triple. In the next at-bat, freshman center fielder Jake Foley hit a two-run home run to right-center field – the first of his career.

USF starter Kyle Eastham was pulled after four innings – the first time he lasted fewer than six innings in four starts this season – and fell to 2-2. Eastham struck out four batters and allowed six runs, one of which was unearned.

The Bulls fought back by sending eight batters to the plate and scoring three runs in the top of the fifth inning. Second baseman Luis Llerena collected USF’s first RBI of the game with a single to shallow center field that scored Falla.

A hit batsman, three walks and two sacrifice flies allowed FGCU to extend the lead to 8-3 with two runs in the sixth inning, despite not recording a hit.

USF left-handed pitcher Janick Serrallonga made his collegiate debut in the seventh inning and nearly managed to pitch a scoreless inning.

After allowing a walk to Eagles’ right fielder Javi Sujo, Serrallonga induced Reeves to hit into a double play. In the next at-bat, Llerena fielded a routine ground ball but made a throwing error to first base, extending the inning on what should have been the third out.

The Eagles extended the score to 9-3 after a Wickens’ RBI double to left-center field. The Bulls scored consolation runs in both the eighth and ninth innings, but it was not enough as USF lost its final game before Big East play opens this weekend.

West Virginia is scheduled to visit the new stadium for a three-game series starting Friday.