Dolphins force Bulls to settle with series split

Just one day after the USF baseball team stayed hot with an 8-0 win over Jacksonville, the Dolphins flipped the script by winning the second game 9-2.

The Bulls were forced to settle for a series split, in which the outcome of both games was decided well before the final pitch was thrown.

“I told these guys that this team would be ready for us,” coach Lelo Prado said. “I guess they thought since they won 8-0 (Tuesday) that they would come in here and do the same thing.”

As well as Matt Reed pitched the night before, starting pitcher Kyle Parker was on the opposite end of the spectrum. The junior southpaw struggled from the

get-go, giving up two runs in the first frame, due in large part to two walks. Parker was tagged with the loss, working 3 1/3 innings and giving up six hits and five runs, along with four walks.

“It all starts with pitching,” Prado said. “You see, the way you start the game, it affects a lot of things. But you’re not always going to pitch shutouts. Offensively, we had some chances early in the game and we didn’t do a good job of taking advantage.”

USF’s offense, which seemed to find its legs while scoring 42 runs in its last four games, looked ineffective once again. The performance was reminiscent of the five-game stretch from Feb. 22 to Feb. 28, in which they went 1-4.

Jimmy Falla was responsible for the only meaningful USF run of the game, and he was helped by a throwing error on Dolphin catcher Matt Frank. For the game, the Bulls managed eight hits. Despite the aid of three Jacksonville errors, USF saw just one run cross home plate before it scored one more in the ninth, when the game was already out of hand.

“It’s easy to win when you’re up four, five (to) nothing,” Prado said. “It takes a real team to play when you’re down 5-0.”

Jacksonville pitcher Alex McRae, who played third base Tuesday night, got the start for the Dolphins. The utility player pitched seven strong innings, allowing just five hits and one run while striking out four USF batters.

The loss will drop the Bulls to 8-5 on the season and halts USF’s four-game winning streak. USF’s next game will be against Eastern Illinois on Friday night at 7, when the Bulls will begin a three-game weekend series.

“Some of the guys out there have been with this program a while now,” Prado said “and I won’t take them rolling out there down 5-1 and not play nine innings the right way.”