Coming off a mediocre performance Friday night at the plate against Toledo, the USF Bulls needed to start fast and put together good at-bats. They did just that as they cruised to an 12-3 victory Saturday night.
The Bulls (9-1), winners of eight straight, saw themselves down 2-0 early after an erratic start by LHP Shane McClanahan. He plunked the first two batters he faced and both came around to score without the benefit of a hit. But he settled down and completed five innings, giving up three runs (two earned) and striking out five Rockets to notch his second win in two starts.
“[McClanahan] just didn’t quite have his command, especially early in the game,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “But, I thought he settled in and he did just enough. His stuff is so good that he doesn’t have to be perfect. He can still give us a chance to win and that’s what he [did] tonight.”
Offensively, the Bulls bounced back after striking out 16 times and leaving 16 men on base Friday night.
In the second inning, DH Luke Borders singled and was driven in two batters later on an RBI single by RF Cameron Montgomery to cut the Toledo lead to 2-1. The base knock was Montgomery’s first hit since the season opener vs Iowa.
The Rockets got the run back in the third on an RBI single by CF Ross Adolph. But it was all USF after that.
LF Duke Stunkel Jr., hitting second in the order for the first time this year, led off the inning with a double down the right field line. 3B David Villar singled to score Stunkel and make it a 3-2 game. 1B Joe Genord laced a ball to right-center field and hustled his way for a triple. When the throw trickled away from the third baseman, Genord was able to scoot home for the Little League home run, giving the Bulls a 4-3 lead.
Genord came into Saturday batting an unsightly .074. Before the game, he watched film with hitting coach Mike Current to figure out what was wrong with his swing. It paid off as he went 2-for-2 with three RBIs, two runs and two walks.
“My dad and I got in the cage for about an hour before the game,“ Genord said. “Then I went up and saw video with coach Current and compared what I was doing last year when I was doing well [to] what I was doing this year, and tried to make the adjustments.”
“I [had] my hands too high and I was more open this year [with my stance],” Genord said. “And last year I was pretty much straight up. I just made the adjustment and made sure I kept my hands at a respectful height.”
USF poured it on in the 5th inning, scoring eight times, batting around and burning through three stages of Rockets pitching. The Bulls didn’t go 1-2-3 until the eighth inning, when the reserves were in to see out the game.
USF will look for back-to-back sweeps over MAC opponents at 1:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon. RHP Peter Strzelecki (1-0, 0.00 ERA) faces RHP Sam Shutes (0-2, 4.63 ERA)
- Borders went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and scored a career-high four runs.
- Stunkel, switch-hitting this year, got his first hit of the year on the right side of the plate and finished 3-for-4 with an RBI.
- Freshmen Collin Sullivan and Carson Ragsdale threw two innings apiece, each striking out three.