Offensive power made up for poor pitching as USF baseball opened its weekend series with a 9-6 win over Western Michigan on Friday night.
Batting tipped the balance against the Broncos as senior Joe Genord drove-in three runs in four at-bats. Senior Kyle Phillips also stood out, going 2-for-5 and put the Bulls ahead with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first.
Pitching lacked for the Bulls as starting pitcher Collin Sullivan gave up an RBI single to center field, which gave the Broncos an early lead in the top of the first. Sullivan gave up eight hits on five runs in the 3.2 innings. Senior Richie Cruz was brought on in the top of the fourth inning to replace Sullivan and gave up a run on two hits.
“From a pitching standpoint, we didn’t do what we were supposed to do. What we showed last weekend didn’t translate over to this week,” coach Billy Mohl said. “I was very disappointed, especially with our starter … he’s gotta be better on a Friday night, I expect more out of him, he understands that. He’ll get better.”
Junior Ben Koff recorded the win and was a silver lining in pitching against the Broncos. He pitched three innings, struck out two batters and only gave up two hits. Koff and junior closer Nelson Alvarez were the only pitchers who did not give up runs.
“Koff is a competitor and he’s gonna come out and give everything he’s got and he had success because of it,” Mohl said.
Despite poor early pitching from the Bulls, batters saved the game against the Broncos.
With Western Michigan taking the lead in the top of the third inning with a double down the left-field line scoring two runners, the Bulls responded in the bottom of the third inning. Junior Austin Bordrato singled to center field, scoring Genord for the Bulls’ fourth run of the game.
The Bulls lost momentum in their comeback after they gave up a run in the top of the fifth inning, giving the Broncos a two-run lead.
The Bulls responded when Genord stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the fifth and homered over the left field wall to send home senior JD Dutka to tie up the game 6-6.
Despite a double play in the bottom of the sixth inning, senior Chris Chatfield managed to make it home to give the Bulls the lead. The Bulls’ final two runs came from Genord and senior Tyler Dietrich.
With a win over Western Michigan in their first game of the series, Mohl looks for an improvement in the Bulls’ pitching as they play their second and third games against the Broncos on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
“I just want to see our pitchers compete and throw the ball where they’re supposed to throw,” Mohl said.