Bulls prepare to meet North Florida

Jacksonville is starting to seem like a second home for the USF baseball team.

The Bulls traveled to River City last week for a scheduled meeting with North Florida, but that game was rained out. The team then departed from Jacksonville to fly to Philadelphia for the weekend series against Villanova.

Now, USF (12-15, 3-3) will board the buses and head back northeast for a two-game midweek series against North Florida.

USF’s starting rotation is in flux, still recovering from the loss of Andrew Barbosa, who began the season as the No. 2 starter for coach Lelo Prado’s team. Barbosa underwent Tommy John surgery after an injury sustained against Elon on Feb. 26.

Kyle Eastham and Matt Reed both began the season as midweek starting pitchers, and each started a game during the Villanova series.

Eastham pitched game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, picking up his third win of the season, pitching seven innings and allowing just one run.

Reed made his first start of the season during USF’s win over Miami on March 1, the first midweek game of the year for the Bulls, before being moved into the starting rotation.

Freshman Nick Gonzalez and senior Junior Carlin seem to be likely candidates to get the ball to start this week’s games.

Gonzalez has made six starts this year, going 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA, but did not make an appearance during the Villanova series over the weekend.

Carlin has started 23 games as an outfielder for the Bulls but has also made six appearances, including one start, on the mound. He hadn’t pitched since his freshman season in 2008 before he began making appearances from the bullpen this season.

Carlin got the start against No. 1 Florida at home March 9 and pitched 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on four hits. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning against Villanova on Sunday in his first pitching appearance since sustaining a shoulder injury March 15 and is 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA.

The first pitch of tonight’s game is scheduled for 6:30, while Wednesday’s game is scheduled for 4 p.m.