As fans watched in beanies and blankets, the Bulls couldn’t get their bats hot in a 13-3 loss to No. 5 Florida.
In 55-degree weather Wednesday night, a crowd of 2,059 was parted between USF’s green and gold and Florida’s blue and orange for the Bulls’ home opener.
“We’re going to try to learn from it,” coach Mark Kingston said. “We need to learn that we still have a ways to go because that’s a top-five team, and we’re not right now. It’s a good glimpse into where we want to be someday.”
The Gators (4-0) had no problem heating up early, as they capitalized off a critical error in the first.
With one on and one out for starter Tommy Peterson, Florida shortstop Richie Martin reached on a throwing error by third baseman Zac Gilcrease.
Florida left-fielder Harrison Bader’s RBI-double then scored Martin and Buddy Reed, who had hit a one-out single.
Peterson (0-1) took the loss after allowing five runs on seven hits through 4 2/3 innings.
The Bulls’ bats were quiet until they posted two runs in the seventh inning. Left-fielder Kevin Merrell broke Florida’s perfect game and reached on an error by Martin.
Shortstop Kyle Teaf drove in Merrell with a single, but was caught trying to advance to second. Pinch-hitter Luke Borders hit a two-out RBI single to score right-fielder Luke Maglich, who had singled earlier.
Leading 6-2, the Gators cushioned their lead with a seven-run eighth to take a 13-2 advantage. Pitcher Tommy Eveld allowed four of those runs before Ryan Valdes surrendered a two-out, 3-RBI triple.
The Bulls answered with a run in the bottom frame, but couldn’t shrink Florida’s lead any more.
Florida starter Brett Morales (1-0) pitched six no-hit innings, while striking out seven.
“His stuff was outstanding with great command,” Kingston said of Morales. “He was ahead of our hitters, and we had no answer for him.”
USF (2-2) hosts Wagner this weekend, beginning with a Friday game at 6:30 p.m.
“I told the team it was one game,” Kingston said. “I want us to have an attitude that we hate to lose to anybody — especially to an in-state rival. With that being said, we have to flush it and move on. It’s one game. It has nothing to do with how we’re going to play this weekend.”