Bulls stomp Green Wave in series victory

Redshirt senior pitcher Ethan Brown showed maturity in his outing on the mound Thursday, moving past five runs allowed in three innings and following up with 3.1 scoreless frames. ORACLE PHOTO/CARLEIGH BENEDICT

For Bulls coach Billy Mohl, this weekend’s series against the Green Wave was a little more personal than a conference matchup — it was a faceoff between his program and his alma mater.

In 2003, Mohl began his collegiate career at Tulane (9-23, AAC 3-3) as a pitcher where he played until 2006. He began his coaching journey in 2007 as assistant coach for the Green Wave.

Though his time at Tulane was memorable, the first thing on the coaches mind is the present.

“It was great, but I wear the green and gold now. I want to beat everybody we play. I obviously owe a lot to that school for where it’s gotten me, but at the end of the day, I’m green and gold all the way and really proud of the effort our guys showed today,” Mohl said.

Against the Green Wave, the Bulls (14-19, AAC 4-2) found their groove by game two after kicking off the series in a 5-2 loss Thursday night. By Friday, USF’s prominent offense attacked the zone to issue a 15-3 mercy rule and finished the series with a 5-3 victory on Saturday.

Mohl said that even though Thursday’s match didn’t have the start he may have wanted, it ended up helping the team in the long run thanks to redshirt senior pitcher Ethan Brown.

“The fact he started off so slow, but saved our bullpen by getting into the sixth inning and allowing [junior pitcher] Riley Skeen and [freshman pitcher] Chandler Dorsey, and all those guys to be fresh for today [Saturday],” Mohl said. “I gave him huge props. That was probably the story of the weekend, him being able to go as deep as he could.”

Brown kicked off the match with a rocky start, giving up a bases-clearing double and two homers in the first three innings. However, the southpaw settled in immediately after putting up eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched.

Even though the Bulls followed up with a great relief appearance by redshirt junior pitcher Tanner Mink, the offense could only get two runs across the plate. Despite the eight hits issued, USF left 11 runners on base.

There was not much to be said about the batting orders numbers on Thursday from Mohl.

“It was not very good. We had a lot of opportunities. A lot. I think we left 11 runners on base that night, that’s not acceptable. That’s not an efficient offense,” Mohl said.

USF made huge adjustments going into Friday’s game, evening the series 1-1 in a 15-3 mercy rule.

On the mound, redshirt junior righty Hunter Mink pitched a strong six innings for the Bulls while racking up eight strikeouts and allowing just one run. Along with the steady start, USF’s offense found its momentum putting up 13 hits and 15 runs.

Freshman infielder Rafael Betancourt and junior outfielder Drew Brutcher both recorded doubles and contributed to four RBI while redshirt junior outfielder Daniel Cantu etched his seventh homer of the season.

After a strong team performance the day before, the Bulls continued the consistent effort in Saturday’s final game to claim their second conference series.

Sophomore pitcher Jack Cebert has started in the weekend rotation in seven series this season for the Bulls. ORACLE PHOTO/CARLEIGH BENEDICT

Sophomore pitcher Jack Cebert gave USF another quality start throwing seven innings with seven punches and one earned run in his outing. With that came another day of a well-structured batting order, which totaled 11 hits and five runs throughout the game. 

Offense made sure to do a better job hitting situationally, with runs scored in the first, fourth and fifth innings coming from RBI or bases loaded situations. 

Following the series win, one of Mohl’s biggest takeaways from this weekend’s production is how it prepares the program for the next week of games. 

“All three starters got six, seven innings, so the bullpen is fresh. They kind of needed that, as you know, it’s been a little bit of a long season so far. To get those guys fresh again will be huge going into Bethune and Houston next week,” Mohl said. 

Before conference play, Bulls pitching was struggling to stay consistent and averaged a 6.09 ERA overall. In conference that number drops to a 4.41 ERA. 

With only seven arms used in three days, USF’s bullpen will be in good shape for the next four games and the rest of the season as long as they continue the upward trend. 

USF will remain home on Tuesday for a midweek matchup against Bethune Cookman at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and Bulls Unlimited.