A pair of home runs, including a 6th inning grand slam by Roman Collins, ended USF's season as the FAU Owls defeated the USF Bulls 8-4 on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville. The loss eliminated USF from the NCAA Tournament.
"It's the building blocks of a very bright future for us," said head coach Mark Kingston after the game. "This team fought so hard, and maximized our ability 99% of the time. The team that we had this year set the standard for how baseball should be played at USF. In terms of effort, in terms of preparation, in commitment. The names will change, but the standard that this team set this year is exactly what it will be moving forward."
The Bulls didn't get enough out of senior right hander Casey Mulholland who conceded six runs in six innings, all via the long ball: a two-run clout to Brandon Sanger in the 1st inning, and a grand slam to Roman Collins in the 6th that caromed off a pillar of the right field scoreboard. In between the bombs Mulholland was effective, at one point retiring 14 of 16 batters between the 1st and 5th innings. But the two mistakes were enough to put the game out of reach for a Bulls team that has struggled offensively all season.
"Power is back in the college game, which I think is a major positive. It's just that today we came up on the short end of that," said Kingston.
Two insurance runs for FAU came at the expense of Michael Farley, who allowed five straight baserunners to reach with two out in the 7th.
USF's struggles at the plate with power and from the bottom of the lineup continued in NCAA play. Andres Leal & Zac Gilcrease combined to go 0-20 in the regional, and USF didn't hit a home run in any of the three games.
The loss ends USF's season at 34-26-1, with a good chunk of the starting lineup either graduating or eligible for the MLB Draft. Only three of the Bulls nine starters on Sunday aren't eligible to be drafted beginning on June 8th (freshman second baseman Kevin Merrell, third baseman Leal, and designated hitter Luke Borders), but some heavy recruiting in-roads have been made already.
Many of those players will get a chance to compete for playing time in 2016 as Kingston has said he'll look to increase the talent level on the roster right away.