The familiar “ping” of the college baseball bat was in the air at the USF Baseball Stadium on Wednesday night as the Bulls played their home opener. The smell of victory, however, didn’t make the trip from Pinellas County.
USF suffered its first loss of the season, 9-1, to North Florida in their home opener, after a 3-0 start in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge over the weekend. Junior pitcher Kyle Parker was credited with the loss, after he struggled through a disastrous fourth inning that saw four Ospreys hits and four runs.
The inning was highlighted by Paul Karmeris, who hit his first home run as an Osprey, a two-run shot to left field that opened the scoring.
“(It was) just a tough game,” coach Lelo Prado said. “We’ve been bragging about our pitching, and our pitching was brutal today, other than (relief pitcher) Austin Adams.”
USF catcher Andrew Longley responded with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth, driving a pitch to center field and scoring freshman Buddy Putnam for the Bulls’ only score of the night.
North Florida continued to threaten and scored two more runs in the seventh inning after back-to-back singles.
UNF struck three more times in the ninth with an RBI double from Michael Wesner, a single from Corey Bass and an RBI single from Joe Wielbruda.
An earlier rainstorm might have had an indirect effect on the outcome of the game, as humid skies caused two big hits from USF bats to fall short of the wall, allowing Ospreys’ center fielder Alex Bacon to make two spectacular diving catches.
After a tough opening at home, the Bulls will now play 26 of their next 27 games in the confines of their own home stadium. USF will next take the field Friday to open a three-game set against Bethune-Cookman.
“We’re gonna have to work, we’re gonna practice, we’re gonna go at it, but they’re going to have to make the plays.” Prado said.
Friday’s first pitch is set for 7 p.m., followed by a 6 p.m. Saturday start and 1 p.m. finale Sunday.