Bulls blow two-run lead against Florida A&M in extras

Alex Bello had an RBI in Wednesday’s loss to FAMU. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF ATHLETICS

“An awful performance all across the board.”

That’s how head coach Billy Mohl described USF’s (6-11) performance in a 10-inning 5-4 loss to Florida A&M at the USF Baseball Stadium on Wednesday night after the Bulls gave away a 3-1 lead.

With the loss, the Bulls were swept by the Rattlers on the season, with a 5-1 loss in Tallahassee on Feb. 17 being the first blow.

FAMU struck first in the fourth with an RBI single by junior L.J. Bryant, who finished 4-for-5 with 3 RBIs.

USF kept pace, striking back in the fifth.

What began as an RBI single by senior Jordan Santos to tie it 1-1 set forth a chain reaction that turned into a 3-1 lead via a sacrifice fly RBI by freshman Dillon Besnier and an RBI single by sophomore Alex Bello.

USF’s two-run lead was short-lived, however. 

Junior Nick Davila, who came in relief of senior starter Collin Sullivan, gave up two runs off a triple and single, tying the game.

“When you put up runs and you take the lead, you’ve got to come out and have a shutdown,” Mohl said. “You’ve got to go right at them and [Davila] did not do that, he left balls up in the zone.”

The bullpen continued to struggle after junior Connor Churchill came in for the eighth, ninth and all but one batter in the 10th. He gave up two runs off three hits — a home run in the ninth and an RBI triple in the 10th, both by Bryant.

A hit batter and intentional walk set up the RBI triple. The hit batter was the killing blow, according to Mohl.

“That was the winning run,” he said. “An 0-2 pitch that hit a guy ended up winning the game.”

Given the shortcomings of the bullpen, more runs would’ve offset the poor pitching, Mohl said.

“No discredit to [FAMU], but we’re better than what we showed,” he said. “Four runs is not good enough on a Wednesday night at our ballpark.”

The bats weren’t there, as the Bulls went 6-for-33. Following a 12-8 win over Pitt where USF went 11-for-35 the day before, Wednesday’s loss cuts deeper, according to Mohl.

“We struck out 14 times tonight after the quality of bats we had last night,” he said. “Our freshmen are not taking the bat off their shoulders.

“That’s the frustrating thing with this team right now, it’s Jekyll and Hyde.”

Pitching woes may further, as redshirt sophomore pitcher Graham Hoffman is out for “a few weeks” with a pulled oblique, following his injury against Pitt.

“Five games in six days, it’s looking a little thin on the 15th,” Mohl said, referring to the bullpen’s ability to be sufficient through the weekend.

USF begins AAC play in just over a week, and Mohl said he wants to use the next four games to figure things out before the conference opener against Memphis.

“We’ve got some things we’ve got to work out and get back on track this weekend.”