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Bats struggle as Florida Gulf Coast walks over USF

Redshirt senior pitcher Joseph Sanchez was one of 10 USF pitchers to take the mound in the Bulls’ 12-4 loss to FGCU on Tuesday. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Coming off its first conference win of the season over the weekend, USF baseball couldn’t keep up with Florida Gulf Coast in its midweek matchup, losing 12-4 on Tuesday.

The Eagles (21-12) contained the Bulls’ (19-14) offense while taking advantage of poor pitching control, drawing 13 walks. 

USF’s pitching staff struggled much like in its last midweek game, a 13-10 loss to North Florida on April 5. The Bulls used 10 pitchers over the course of Tuesday’s game, a season high.

Assistant coach Bo Durkac knew that while the lineup didn’t perform as needed, the pitching staff also wasn’t up to par. 

“Today, it wasn’t as bad as it looks, but everything gets magnified when you walk [your opponent], when your pitching staff walks 13 guys and can’t get anybody out,” he said.

Redshirt senior pitcher Joseph Sanchez started off the game with a scoreless first frame followed by a ground out RBI by freshman Jackson Mayo to get USF out to an early lead. 

The Eagles answered in the second with a run on a fielder’s choice to tie the score 1-1. FGCU would later extend its lead to 4-1 thanks to a two-run single. Both scorers on that hit were allowed on base by walks. 

USF pulled within one run of the lead in the bottom of the fourth when redshirt sophomore Daniel Cantu hit his fifth homer of the season, followed by redshirt junior Nick Gonzalez scoring on a passed ball. FGCU restored its advantage with three more runs in the fifth. 

Another run off an RBI single from redshirt sophomore infielder Carmine Lane cut the deficit to three, but USF wasn’t able to complete the comeback. FGCU would tack on five more runs later in the game, three of which originated from walks.

The Bulls had a few missed opportunities in the batter’s box with runners in scoring position, leaving a dozen runners stranded on the base paths. It was an unusual drought for the USF offense, but not indicative of a teamwide drop-off in hitting, according to Durkac.

“It was one of those nights we just couldn’t get any hits with runners on base,” he said. “We left 12 on base and left a lot of them early in the game when we had a chance to take a lead. So we had a little bit of a bad night, but [we’re] not in a slump. We just hung 13 on Tulane [on Sunday].” 

The Bulls will stay home for its first home conference series against Memphis starting Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and iHeartRadio Bulls Unlimited.