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Eagles hold off error-prone Bulls

Levi Borders was the only Bull with two hits as USF only scored twice against FGCU. ORACLE PHOTO/SEBASTIAN CONTENTO

The Bulls’ defensive woes continued Tuesday night, as they fell 6-2 to FGCU at the USF Baseball Stadium.

The Bulls (4-3-1) lead the AAC with 18 errors after committing three within the first five innings of Tuesday’s game.

 “Our defense needs to get back to where I thought it would be before the season started,” coach Mark Kingston said. “Our defense is not playing at a level that any of us expected. The only way to get us back to where we were before the season started is to work hard.”

The Bulls escaped the first inning without surrendering a run after the Eagles loaded the bases on an error and two walks. Starter Ryan Valdes got out of the inning with a strikeout and a fly out.

But USF couldn’t prevent damage in the second, as FGCU (4-4-1) posted two runs. Back-to-back RBI singles scored shortstop Brian Pruett, who had reached on an error, and center fielder Adam Eggnatz, who had singled.

The Bulls answered in the bottom frame with right fielder Luke Maglich’s RBI single, which scored catcher Levi Borders, who had singled. Borders, who is batting .310, went 2-for-4.

Valdes (0-1) pitched three innings in his first start and allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits. The junior transfer from State College of Florida walked and struck out two before Tommy Eveld, Jordan Strittmatter and Tommy Peterson relieved him. 

FGCU tacked on another run in the fifth before shortstop Kyle Teaf’s RBI single scored left fielder Kevin Merrell in the bottom frame.

For every inning FGCU scored, USF responded until the eighth inning when the Eagles scored on an RBI single and a passed ball, putting them in the lead for good.

FGCU capped its scoring with designated hitter Nick Rivera’s homer to left-center in the ninth.

Eagles pitcher Sterling Koerner (2-0) earned the win after pitching five scoreless innings of relief for starter Nick Deckert. 

“They kept us off-balance, got ahead of our hitters,” Kingston said. “We didn’t do enough offensively, we didn’t have enough guys on base, and when we did, we were able to steal some bases and get some things going. We just didn’t have enough guys on base.”

USF plays High Point in a weekend series at the USF Baseball Stadium, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.