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USF shuts out Iowa for season-opening series win

USF coach Mark Kingston said he was impressed with the team’s pitching this weekend, but will continue to keep pitchers Shane McClanahan and Peter Strzelecki on pitch counts for the time being.

It had been over a year since Peter Strzelecki had pitched in a baseball game. 

The redshirt junior transferred to USF from Palm Beach State College prior to the 2016 season, but had to sit out the entire year after having Tommy John surgery due to a preseason injury. 

Sunday, he made his return to the mound and pitched five innings of one-hit ball to help the Bulls cruise to a 6-0 win over Iowa at the USF Baseball Stadium.

The win was not only Strzelecki’s first in quite some time, but also his first at the Division I level. 

“I’ve been looking forward to this for a very long time,” Strzelecki said. “Sleepless nights, a lot of days working hard. So, yeah I was looking forward to it.”

USF jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-run double by designated hitter Luke Borders and then an RBI single by freshman first baseman Anthony Gonnella. 

Though the Bulls would go on to score three more runs, their first inning outburst would be all the offense they needed. 

The lone hit allowed by Strzelecki came on a bunt single in the top of the third inning that put runners on first and second with two outs, but the next hitter quickly lined out to end the threat.

Though the Hawkeyes struggled to get anything going against Strzelecki, the junior said he was “running out of gas” as he reached the end of the fifth.

“Our pitchers did exactly what we needed them to do today and that started with Pete,” coach Mark Kingston said. “Pete was good, he had good command. His pitches had good life on them and he was just tough to hit. I thought the big thing is, for his first Division I start, he had poise. 

“Right there in the middle there was a situation where maybe a call went against him and he had great poise and got through it, so that was really encouraging to see.”

Kingston said both Strzelecki and redshirt freshman Shane McClanahan are being limited to 70-80 pitches per game for the time being, while they build up strength after a year away from the game. 

The win gave USF (2-1) the series win over Iowa, as the Bulls stormed back from a 4-0 deficit with a nine-run eighth inning on Friday night and then fell in the ninth inning on a stormy Saturday afternoon.

All three starters kept the Bulls in each of their contests over the weekend, even with two of them being limited by pitch counts. 

Friday night starter Phoenix Sanders allowed two runs on five hits over five innings while striking out eight. 

Also pitching for the first time in over a year, McClanahan gave up just one hit while striking out nine over a weather-shortened four innings.   

USF will travel to Tallahassee to play No. 5 Florida State on Tuesday in the Bulls only road game for a month.