They're 29-15 overall, and 13-2 in the Big East. They've won 15 of their last 16, and are receiving votes in some polls. And they are for sure a better baseball team than last year. But we are absolutely not convinced yet. Here's why:
They've built that gaudy 1st place conference record on the back of Cincinnati (4-14 in Big East), Georgetown (5-10), UConn (8-10) & St. John's (7-11). The Bulls are only #78 in the latest RPI, and their record against the RPI Top 25 (Louisville, Indiana, three vs. FSU, Florida) is 0-6, and in those games they've been outscored 61-9. Yikes.
Even their sweep of a decent RPI #48 Pittsburgh (12-3) came due to a Friday night 1-0 win from absolute ace/stud freshman Jimmy Herget. We concede that on a Friday or to open a tournament, the Bulls can play with any team in America simply due to Herget. This kid is absolutely a stud, and his 0.76 ERA in 35.2 Big East innings is just ridiculous. His advanced numbers aren't quite as insane (2.55 FIP, 25K's vs. 9BB's), but his stuff is electric moving around the zone... and he's still a FRESHMAN. He's gonna be here at least two more years, and it's always nice knowing who your Friday night starter will be two years from now barring injury. We're unsure about the team as a whole, but not about Herget.
On Saturday vs. Pitt, down two in the 9th inning, here's how the Bulls pulled out victory: walk, single, BUNT (don't get us started on all the damn bunting), intentional walk, wild pitch, a second intentional walk, and a hit batsman. (Semi) SHRIMP ALERT!!
Sunday, they grinded out a 3-2 with some great pitching. Three one-run wins over a weekend against a non-Top 25 team, but one receiving votes like USF is. That's good, but... sample size alert!!
As a whole, we're thrilled about the pitching, as a staff 2.65 ERA in conference games and a 3.09 FIP is very solid even against marginal competition. But the bats continue to concern us, and the amount of outs conceded by bunting prevents the big inning from happening.
So prove us wrong Bulls. Go out and beat RPI #26 and ranked-in-some-polls Notre Dame this weekend. We know you can compete with anyone on Friday, and the bullpen has certainly been a strength. But put up some runs against a team conceding a 3.85 ERA so far this year. There is almost zero power, as evidenced by the team slash line of .282/.377/.378. I mean it's REALLY hard to have a slugging percentage only one point higher than your on base percentage. The team photo should be everyone squaring around to bunt.
Getting two out of three or a sweep this weekend would go a very long way towards an NCAA berth, and making believers out of the skeptics. Prove us wrong, USF Baseball. To steal a phrase from your neighbors down the hall... #DOSOMETHING