USF’s bats fizzle in series finale loss

Sophomore pitcher Joe Cavallaro gave up two runs, striking out eight in a 3-2 loss to Eastern Michigan.

Following two eight-run showings by the USF offense in the first two games of the series, the Bulls’ bats were quiet Sunday in the series finale, losing 3-2 to Eastern Michigan University at the USF Baseball Stadium.

Sophomore pitcher Joe Cavallaro kept USF (4-3) in the game during his seven innings, limiting the Eagles to two runs on three hits with eight strikeouts. 

“Pitching gave us a chance to win every game, and the way we pitched, we should have won every game,” USF coach Mark Kingston said. “Our offense was not good today.”

The USF bullpen, which did not allow a run all series, surrendered the lead for good in the eighth when junior pitcher Brad Labozzetta allowed a run to score in his sole inning of work. 

Despite the series win, Kingston said he wasn’t pleased with the Bulls’ offensive production in the series finale.

“Not near enough offense,” he said. “Their pitchers threw well below hitting speed and we didn’t make adjustments. So you have to tip your cap to those guys, but I’m disappointed with how we did not score runs today.”

Judging from Kingston’s recent use of Labozzetta, it appears junior pitcher Brandon Lawson, who pitched six innings in the win Saturday, has taken over his spot in the rotation for the time being. 

“At this point, with our depth and some of the injuries we’ve endured, if you pitch like he did (Saturday), you’re going to stay in the rotation,” Kingston said Saturday. “The key is we need to figure out how to get him past that first inning because we may play some teams that we can’t recover from going down four. All in all, it was an encouraging effort and he’ll be in the rotation next weekend.”

Sticking to his word, Kingston again employed a new lineup Sunday, giving freshman Jonah Garrison his first start of the season. 

“We’re trying to figure out different roles, get looks at guys at different spots in the lineup,” Kingston said Saturday night. “We’re going to continue to experiment until we find what we think is the best combination.”

USF will look to win its lone weekday game when it travels to play at Bethune-Cookman University (2-3) Tuesday at 6 p.m.