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Sullivan’s bounce back performance not enough in Bulls’ loss to Liberty on Friday

Collin Sullivan went 5.1 innings while striking out seven Friday night. ORACLE PHOTO/JOSÉE WOBLE

Collin Sullivan’s stellar performance on the mound wasn’t enough for the Bulls as they lost 6-4 in the opening game of their series against Liberty on Friday at the USF Baseball Stadium.

Sullivan pitched 5.1 innings, giving up just two hits and striking out seven. After throwing his 108th pitch of the evening, USF ahead 2-0 and two runners on base, the Bulls called for backup from the bullpen.

“I thought Sullivan was really good,” coach Billy Mohl said. “I though he bounced back really well from last week. He got a little tired there in the sixth and his pitch count was up a little bit.”

Going in to relieve Sullivan, Logan Lyle lasted just four pitches, walking the only batter he faced before being replaced by Richie Cruz. Cruz didn’t see the mound for long either. After giving up one hit and striking out one, he closed out the inning but that would be the end of his night.

“We have to figure out our bullpen,” Mohl said. "We have to figure out who’s gonna relish in the role, who we can count on, who we can trust to come in and throw strikes.”

Connor Eason headed out to the mound for the seventh, the inning that arguably cost USF the game.

Eason faced two batters before giving up his first home run of the season. Liberty’s Tyler Galazin hit one deep to left field, putting the Flames ahead 4-3.

Dylan Burns later took over with two outs and two runners on. Flames’ shortstop Cam Locklear hit a single to centerfield and an error from Kyle Phillips advanced him to third base, ultimately allowing two more runs to score in the inning.

“It’s hard coming back from a three-spot, but we did put up a run in the eighth — made it a two-run game,” Mohl said. “Their guy was really good on the mound in the late innings. It’s a tough hole to dig yourself out of ”

The scoring did start early for the Bulls. Thanks to Jordan Santos’ RBI double to right-center field in the second inning, Nick Gonzalez scored, plating the Bulls first run of the evening. In the third inning, Austin Bodrato also RBI doubled, scoring Kyle Phillips.

Despite Sullivan’s performance and scoring first, the Bulls were unable to end Liberty’s four-game winning streak.

USF will stay at home Saturday night against the Flames for game two of the series. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.