DELAND — It was a tale of missed opportunities for No. 2 USF on Friday, as the Bulls dropped the first game of the DeLand Regional 9-2 to No. 3 Oklahoma State.
USF left the bases loaded in the fourth and sixth innings, but could not plate any runs either time. The Bulls went three-for-16 with runners on base and two-for-nine with runners in scoring position.
“We just didn’t take advantage when we had runners in scoring position,” shortstop Coco Montes said. “Usually we come through in those times, but today was just a rough day. But, it happens – it’s baseball.”
Chris Chatfield homered to open the scoring in the second inning, putting the Bulls up 1-0. The Cowboys bounced right back by scoring five unanswered runs between the third and sixth innings.
David Villar drove Montes home in the bottom of the seventh inning to get USF within three runs, but that would be as close as the Bulls got. Oklahoma State scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to close out the scoring.
Peter Strzelecki took the loss for USF. The senior righty allowed four earned runs on 10 hits over 5.1 innings.
“(Strzelecki) left some breaking balls up in the zone that they hammered,” coach Billy Mohl said. “But it was mostly a location thing. When he was down in the zone, he was getting his swings and misses.”
Strzelecki was hit by a line drive in the calf from the bat of Oklahoma State left fielder Jon Littell in the fourth inning, but he remained in the game after a brief checkup by Mohl.
“Any time you take a shot like that, it’s going to shake you up a little bit,” Mohl said. “He did a good job responding. He’s a tough kid, there’s no way he was coming out of that game. He was fighting for all those guys in that dugout, and he did a good job.”
Up next for USF is Hartford, which fell to Stetson 8-3 on Friday night, in an elimination game on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Mohl said either Shane McClanahan or Collin Sullivan will start the game for the Bulls.
McClanahan last pitched in USF’s opener in the AAC Tournament against Wichita State, allowing one run on five hits in five innings, but did not factor in the decision. Sullivan last pitched in the Bulls’ second game in the AAC Tournament against the Shockers, allowing one earned run en route to a complete game victory.
“We’ve been in this hole before,” Mohl said. “We’ve lost the first game a lot this year, but we’ve always bounced back.”