Two days after the USF baseball team completed a dominating weekend sweep of the Savannah State Tigers, a three-game series in which the Bulls outscored the Tigers 34-11, the team will begin a two-game series against the Jacksonville Dolphins.
USF’s bats gained back the confidence that was lost in their preceding five-game stretch, when the Bulls lost four of their last five games and scored just five runs in their four losses combined.
Senior third baseman Daniel Rockhold, who struggled to a slow start in his first eight games of the season, broke through in the three-game series, batting .555 with two home runs, seven RBIs and five scored runs.
Coach Lelo Prado said the team’s offense started up again after their game against the New York Yankees Friday at George Steinbrenner Field.
“We really got our offense going,” Prado said. “It really started with the Yankee game. … We got some good at-bats and were really focused. We carried that over against Savannah State. If we can keep doing that, we are going to become a good little ballclub.”
Another positive that the Bulls gained from the weekend was consistent pitching; their staff held the Tigers to just 11 runs. The most promising performance came in the final game of the series, when senior ace Andrew Barbosa flashed the brilliance he showed before Tommy John surgery in the offseason.
“I was happy for (Barbosa), he pitched 5 quality innings” Prado said. “that’s what we expect from him… you could really tell he was getting impatient (last game).”
Barbosa worked five innings, allowing just one hit, a leadoff single in the first inning, and proceeded to retire 15 consecutive batters. He also dished out six strikeouts, before being replaced by Adrian Puig to begin the sixth inning.
“He was limited, but if he keeps pitching like this, it’s going to be hard to keep him off the mound,” Prado said.
Though it is unlikely that Barbosa will see the mound in the midweek series, the potential for extended innings from the senior is likely to allow more freedom for the bullpen.
The Bulls have not yet announced a starting pitcher for tonight’s game, which begins at 7. The second game of the series will be played Wednesday, with a scheduled first