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Gators’ late game rally breaks close game for Bulls

Sophomore pitcher Jack Cebert posted a 7.09 ERA in 39.1 innings pitched along with five strikeouts in 2022. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

A neck-and-neck game between USF and No. 7 UF baseball ended in a 6-1 loss for South Florida on Tuesday night, despite controlling Florida for a vast majority of the game.

The Bulls (1-3) showed improvements in their pitching, keeping the Gators (4-0) to 6 runs in comparison to the 12.3 runs per game they were averaging. However, Florida outhit South Florida 11-5 along with a late home run rally in the top of the ninth.

Associate head coach Bo Durkac saw the team begin to move toward being an efficient program, but one inning changed it all.

“First of all, we pitched our tails off and they had as many failed runners in scoring position as we did throughout the whole game,” Durkac said.

“Their difference in the game, of course, was the ninth inning. They hit the three home runs but our pitchers executed when they had runners in scoring position, and their guys did it to us. That’s an elite pitching staff over there.”

USF got things started early on with an RBI double by sophomore outfielder Marcus Brodil, and continued to hold its lead until the fourth inning.

Sophomore pitcher Jack Cebert defended the mound for 3.2 innings while pairing three strikeouts in his performance. It wasn’t until Florida sophomore two-way player Jac Caglianone ended Cebert’s scoreless run and sent a solo bomb over the center field fence to tie the game 1-1.

Coach Billy Mohl commemorated Cebert on his first quality start of the season despite the home run.

“It was a great performance by him, he did exactly what I asked him to do, keep the ball on the ground and keep the big hits from coming. The key with him is what does he do next time he’s out and if he can build on this and get better. Next time he’s got a chance to have a really good outing,” Mohl said.

Once Florida got on the board, the Gators began to slowly extend their lead throughout the game.

After an RBI single in the sixth, Florida continued its momentum late in the ninth with back-to-back solo shots to left center to extend its lead 4-1. Following throwing errors and the Gators attacking the zone offensively, the final score was drawn 6-1.

Mohl said was happy to see growth within pitching, but that didn’t hide the fact that the team didn’t play the full nine innings.

“Would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. Doesn’t count in my book. You got to play a complete nine innings and we didn’t do that,” Mohl said. “I challenged my pitchers and they responded until that last inning. We had a four-year player in our program throw a ball in center field, that can’t happen.”

South Florida is quickly developing and moving past its initial problems during opening weekend, but small hiccups and mistakes are currently driving the Bulls’ losses.

Bulls baseball will hit the road to finish their series with the Gators on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.