Bulls battle to take season-opening series against Marist

Carson Ragsdale started Sunday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF ATHLETICS

During this year’s media day, the USF baseball team continuously talked about being like Navy SEALs and “carrying the boat.” The Bulls (2-1) definitely did that by showing fight this weekend in their season-opening series win against Marist College (1-2) at the USF Baseball Stadium.

The Bulls found ways to fight their way back twice, even though they fell behind late.

“It’s a tough team,” coach Billy Mohl said. “This is a tight-knit group, they have the slogan “carry the boat,” and it takes all of us. … We’re in it together.” 

Despite senior Collin Sullivan’s eight strikeouts Friday, USF was down 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth until a couple of errors by the Red Foxes’ infield and an RBI single by junior catcher Jake Sullivan helped tie the game at four. USF eventually fell 6-4 in 12 innings. 

Saturday’s game was similar. USF again had good starting pitching, this time from Jack Jasiak. The freshman pitched seven innings, striking out nine and allowing one run. 

However, Jasiak was not the only freshman who had a big moment Saturday.

The Bulls and Red Foxes again went to extra innings, this time tied 1-1. Marist scored a run in the top of the 11th. The Bulls tied it in the bottom of the inning on a single down the right-field line by sophomore infielder Dylan Buck.

With runners at the corners, freshman Carmine Lane stepped up for his first at-bat of the night after Mohl called on him to pinch hit and delivered a walk-off single to give the Bulls a 3-2 win.

Mohl was not surprised by the performance of his freshmen.

“Jack’s just as good as anybody else we have, so yeah, he’s a really talented freshman,” Mohl said. “Carmine Lane, he’s a ballplayer. We knew that when we recruited him. He’s done a really nice job.”

In the series finale, USF’s fight was embodied by its starting pitcher junior Carson Ragsdale, who made his first start after missing all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Ragsdale threw six innings, allowed one earned run and struck out 10.

“It was just great to come out and just get my team the best chance to win,” Ragsdale said. “I was just trying to get through five innings.”

The Bulls needed to show their resilience one final time in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 4-2 win.

Holding a 4-1 lead, senior Dylan Burns was brought into a no-out, bases-loaded jam. Burns surrendered one run and struck out a batter in a huge performance at a critical moment.

“My mentality is just to go in, throw strikes, attack the batters and let my defense work, let them do their things,” Burns said.

This weekend showed the Bulls’ ability to deal with adversity, according to Burns.

“Our fight’s up there, man,” Burns said. “I think that we’ve prepared so much that even when we’re down, we’re going to fight back and come back no matter what.

“I don’t think we’re ever out of a baseball game.”