Bulls win series, but pitching remains inconsistent
USF baseball (7-4) won two of three games against Brown (2-4) at the USF Baseball Stadium this weekend, but lacked consistency on the pitcher’s mound throughout.
Though the offense improved over the course of the series, a poor pitching performance on Saturday prevented the Bulls from completing a second consecutive sweep.
USF 3, Brown 0
In the first game of the series on Friday, USF’s pitching got off to a dominant start behind the arm of redshirt sophomore Jack Jasiak.
The Bulls’ ace had his longest outing of the season thus far, completing seven innings of work while striking out 12 batters.
Not only did he log his first win of the season, but he completed an immaculate inning in the first, taking down three batters with nine consecutive strikes.
Redshirt sophomore Hunter Mink entered the game in relief in the eighth inning. He wrapped up the game with no hits and four strikeouts to secure the shutout for the Bulls.
Mink is a new addition to the Bulls, a transfer from Florida who has performed well in his short time under coach Billy Mohl.
“If Hunter Mink can continue doing what he does at the end of the games, that’s a pretty good punch right there,” Mohl said.
Led by Jasiak’s strong performance, the offense didn’t need to play catch up but continued its dry spell that carried over from a 2-1 loss to North Florida on March 2.
Sophomores Nelson Rivera and Joaquin Monque each drove in a run while redshirt sophomore Carmine Lane went deep for his third home run of the season.
Brown 9, USF 5
The pitching fell apart against the Bears on Saturday, beginning with a tough outing for redshirt junior Brad Lord.
In just three innings, Lord allowed seven hits and four runs, giving Brown an early lead that the Bulls could not make up.
The Bears tacked on another five runs against the bullpen, three against redshirt senior Joseph Sanchez and two against freshman Tyler Dietz.
The Bulls used six different pitchers on the mound throughout the game, but it didn’t stop the Bears from doing damage. Brown finished the game with 17 hits against USF’s cavalry of arms.
USF attempted to mount a comeback starting in the fifth but wasn’t quite able to score enough, despite late RBI from redshirt sophomore Ben Rozenblum and freshmen Sonny Rao and Marcus Brodil.
Mohl wasn’t pleased with the team that came out to play after just shutting out Brown the night before.
“All three phases were not good [on Saturday]. Pitching was not good,” Mohl said. “Brad did not give us a good start, from there it all trickled downhill. Our offense was very stale. It was very uninspired baseball.”
USF 6, Brown 3
Redshirt junior Orion Kerkering made his first weekend start for the Bulls, continuing his progress in transitioning from the team’s closer into a starting pitcher.
In six innings pitched, Kerkering had 10 strikeouts and allowed only two runs.
With his shutout on March 1 against FIU and his outing against Brown, Mohl is optimistic about opening up a weekend spot for the former closer.
“Probably look for him in the starting role next weekend. I think our starting pitching has a chance to be really, really good,” Mohl said.
The bats also showed a lot more firepower than the days before, coming to life early against the Bears.
Sophomore outfielder Drew Brutcher provided a spark in back-to-back innings with home runs in the first and second, driving in a total of four runs.
“He’s a really talented player. He’s been [streaky] early here in the year so we’re hoping that this is a jumpstart to get some consistency from him,” Mohl said.
Coming off a five-game week, the Bulls have another one coming up with two games against Boston College on Tuesday and Wednesday and three against Bradley over the weekend.
“A lot of guys are going to get opportunities again,” Mohl said. “We’re still trying, you need more than five or six good pitchers, so guys are going to continue to get opportunities and see what they got.”
The Bulls will face Boston College at the USF Baseball Stadium in a two-game series starting Tuesday at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and iHeartRadio Bulls Unlimited.