Injury bug taking a bite at USF baseball

Sophomore outfielder Drew Brutcher is one of the many players facing injury in the middle of the team’s conference play. USF ATHLETICS.

USF baseball coach Billy Mohl provided an update on the five players dealing with injuries ahead of the team’s upcoming road trip to Florida A&M on Tuesday and then Cincinnati over the weekend.

Among those sidelined are the Bulls’ (20-16, 2-7 AAC) No. 1 starting pitcher, home run leader and one of their most-used relievers.

Redshirt sophomore Jack Jasiak has not returned to the mound since a March 26 outing against Niagara. Mohl kept the nature of the injury close to the chest but revealed the severity of it. 

“He’s out for the year. It’s an injury that is going to prevent him from [playing again this season],” Mohl said. “I’m not going to say what it is, but it’s an upper extremity.” 

Jasiak has been the team’s top starter in the rotation since last season. The ace was enjoying a stellar 2022 with five starts and a 1.32 ERA over 27.1 innings, including 12 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings against Brown on March 4.

With the Bulls now in conference play, it’s been a scramble to find a pitcher to fill a third starting rotation spot. Assistant coach Karsten Whitson said behind the scenes it’s been difficult trying to fill the void.

“[Jasiak] is an all-conference type of pitcher that you lose, so you’re definitely going to feel it in your staff, and one of the best competitors I’ve been around,” Whitson said. “But it’s next man up, we got to rally around him and guys have to step up, maybe pitching some roles that they weren’t probably expected to this year.” 

The injuries on the mound continue for the Bulls with redshirt freshman Dylan Vega and redshirt junior Devin Hemenway. Vega has taken the bench since a closing appearance against Niagara on March 27, while Hemenway was seen walking off the mound on April 15 grasping his rib cage. 

Sophomore Drew Brutcher also won’t step foot on the diamond for a significant amount of time. He’s set to a miss a month with a lower body injury, according to Mohl.

While he was active, Brutcher was perhaps the Bulls’ most valuable hitter. He leads the team with 10 home runs and an on-base percentage of .463, thanks in part to his team-high 31 walks.

Brutcher last played in the series opener against Memphis on April 14 and had started every game since opening day. A regular in the outfield and at the second spot in the lineup, Brutcher brought more than power to the plate. He trails only Carmine Lane in batting average with a .306 clip.

Another player that was once a consistent lineup starter who has been absent is redshirt sophomore Ben Rozenblum. He last played on April 9 while the Bulls were on the road at Tulane. Mohl said he suffered a broken foot and will likely miss two to three weeks.

Redshirt junior infielder Nick Gonzalez missed the Bulls’ most recent game after getting hit by a pitch in the foot on Friday. He is listed as day-to-day, according to Mohl.

With multiple key players set to miss a substantial amount of playing time, Mohl and the Bulls will have to depend on their depth for production down the stretch of the season with postseason play looming.