USF baseball shut out the Iowa Hawkeyes 6-0 on Sunday behind a strong debut for junior RHP Peter Strzelecki. The junior from Lake Worth tossed five scoreless innings of one hit ball and struck out six. He worked with a low-90s fastball and slider combo that kept hitters off-balance the entire day.
“He threw well, he did exactly what we needed,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “Him going a little bit deeper than we did yesterday allowed us to use some guys in the bullpen exactly the way we want to. He had good command had good life on them. For his first Division I start he had great poise.”
“It felt great, it feels good to be back out there with the team,” said Strzelecki, who missed the 2016 season following Tommy John surgery. “It’s been a long time coming but it feels good to be back.”
In the third inning with Iowa threatening after getting two men on base was able to get SS Mason McCoy to fly out to right field to end the inning and only real threat the Hawkeyes had all game.
The Bulls jumped on Hawkeyes starter RHP Shane Ritter early. SS Kevin Merrell and LF Chris Chatfield each walked on four pitches to start the home half of the first inning and DH Luke Borders drove them both in on a blistering double down the right field line to take a 2-0 lead. After a Joe Genord strikeout, freshman 1B Anthony Gonnella, making his collegiate debut, singled home Borders to make it 3-0.
Merrell drew four walks, one short of Johnny Raburn’s school record against Stetson in 2000. Borders finished the day 3-for-5 with three RBI.
In the second inning, sophomore 2B Coco Montes continued his hot start with a homer run off Hawkeyes reliever Ryan Erickson, who had just entered the game for an erratic Ritter.
The Bulls (2-1) travel to Tallahassee to take on #5 Florida State on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. RHP Ryan Valdes will get the call for USF after a shaky relief appearance on Saturday.
“I think he’ll learn from [yesterday giving up two home runs],” Kingston said. “His stuff was good, but he was up in the zone a little bit and I think he learned yesterday that he better get the ball down. Hopefully he’ll be sharper on Tuesday.”
- USF hit .292 as a team during the series and held Iowa to a .179 average. Borders, Merrell and Montes had at least four hits.
- Bulls pitchers racked up 39 strikeouts in the series and walked only 11.
- Three of Iowa’s four hits were infield hits, two of which hit the pitcher in some form.
- Sophomore LHP Andrew Perez struck out the side looking to end the game.