Bulls baseball dominant in all phases during four-game Marist matchup

Sophomore designated hitter Rafael Betancourt (left) was on a tear during the four-game series recording at least a run and a hit in each game. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

South Florida baseball took on Marist College in a four-game home series this weekend and came away with four dominant wins.

The Bulls (4-2, 0-0 AAC) finished off the series with a 12-2 victory on Sunday, closing the game out in seven innings.

All four games ended after seven innings due to USF’s big leads putting the run rule into effect.

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USF won 16-3 on Friday before recording 10-0 and 11-1 victories during Saturday’s double-header.

The run rule is used when a team is up by 10 runs or more at the end of the seventh inning. 

Bulls coach Billy Mohl said he was pleased with the way his team responded after losing twice during their opening weekend.

“It was good to see our guys bounce back after the first two games of the season,” Mohl said. “But we’ve got a new offensive philosophy in place, and no matter the sport, when you have a new system in place, sometimes it takes a little time to marinate.”

Here are four takeaways from the Bulls’ sweep this weekend:

Powerful hitting

The Bulls’ bats were hot this weekend and ran up the score with 49 runs in four games.

They used power and speed, with a little small-ball mixed in, to crack 18 extra-base hits including five home runs.

Senior outfielder Drew Brutcher was a consistent presence in the lineup, batting with a .444 average against the Red Wolves (1-6, 0-0 MAAC). 

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The veteran came into the season with lingering strikeout problems after striking out 86 times last season which led the team.

Brutcher was patient at the plate against Marist and managed to draw eight walks while striking out just twice.

Junior outfielder Jackson Mayo was outstanding this series as well, hitting .533 with a home run and two doubles. 

After the series against the Red Wolves, six players in the USF lineup are hitting over a .300 average.

Betancourt dropping bombs

Sophomore designated hitter Rafael Betancourt was the star of the series for the Bulls’ high scoring offense.

The talented utility player hit for an astounding .636 average on the weekend.

His best game came on Friday where he went 4-4 with three runs, seven runs-batted-in and a home run.

Overwhelming pitching 

South Florida combined its prowess behind the plate with lights out pitching to ensure a premature end to each game.

Senior pitcher Hunter Mink kicked the series off with a strong five innings in game one.

The Florida transfer allowed three hits and two earned runs while striking out five Red Wolves.

Senior Dominick Madonna and junior Matt Brown, both coming in this season as transfers, started in Saturday’s double header.

Madonna threw a shutout over four innings in the first game of the day before Brown added four strikeouts and five walks, allowing just one run.

Senior pitcher Jack Cebert closed out the series with style.

Cebert notched four strikeouts in five innings, giving up just one run, two walks and two hits.

The Bulls now own a 1.96 ERA as a team, putting them in the top 20 in the country.

Sharp defense

The Bulls’ defense combined with the stout pitching to hold Marist to six runs over the four games in the series. 

Sophomore shortstop Eric Snow and junior second baseman Bobby Boeser were a brick wall in the middle of the infield.

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The pair turned six double-plays in the series while neither committed an error.

South Florida didn’t commit a single error in four games versus Marist, making the pitching rotation’s job that much easier.

“We played good fundamental baseball all weekend and performed in all four phases – hitting, base running, pitching and defense,” Mohl said. “It’s a good step forward, and one which we need to build on.”

South Florida baseball will travel to Tallahassee next to take on Florida State on Tuesday at 5 p.m. EST.