(Just like with softball, we have background music.)
The South Florida Bulls got a test right out of the box as they kicked off the 2013 baseball campaign on Saturday, and failed it spectacularly. Facing the fourth-ranked Louisville Cardinals, a team they will not see in Big East play later in the season, USF fell behind 4-0 in the first inning and ended up losing 10-1. Nick Gonzalez could not make it out of that first inning, giving up four runs (three earned) on two hits and two walks, while only recording two outs. It didn't get much better from there. The Bulls committed a total of five errors and struck out 15 times, 12 of them at the hands of Cardinals pitcher Patrick Thompson in his five innings of shutout ball.
USF did get a run across in the bottom of the ninth inning to break the shutout, and then in the nightcap against Purdue, they went absolutely berserk. The Bulls jumped on the Boilermakers, putting up nine runs in the first inning and piling it on in the later innings for a 20-2 rout. It was the most runs USF had scored in a single game since they beat Villanova 20-4 on April 26, 2008. James Ramsey, who didn't play against Louisville, made his season debut with two hits, a home run, four RBI, and three runs scored. Chris Norton had four hits, Nik Alfonso also drove in four, and every USF starter reached base at least twice. The Bulls pounded out 20 hits, while Joey Lovecchio picked up the win and Jimmy Herget cleaned up with four scoreless innings.
On Sunday, though, the Bulls were back on the short end of the blowout stick. Against Indiana, who had beaten Louisville earlier in the weekend, USF fell behind in the middle innings and didn't have enough power to make a serious comeback, losing 12-2. Although the Bulls had 14 hits in the game, they were all singles, and some timely Indiana pitching plus four double plays helped prevent USF from making a game of it. The Bulls' pitching was especially wild against the Hoosiers. USF walked six batters, threw five wild pitches (four by Strittmatter), and hit five Indiana batters. Meanwhile, Sam Travis had three doubles and Kyle Schwarber hit a home run and drove in four for the Hoosiers.
USF has a few more days off before heading up to Tallahassee for another challenge -- a weekend series against the 19th-ranked Florida State Seminoles.