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USF Baseball Upsets #6 North Carolina 4-3 in Season Opener

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The Billy Mohl Era starts with a bang behind new faces and an ace.

The Billy Mohl Era of USF baseball started with an impressive 4-3 victory over #6 North Carolina Tar Heels Friday night at the USF baseball Stadium thanks to fresh faces and an ace that just won’t quit.

“It’s awesome. That guy has our back and we have his back no matter what. We wanted him here and we got him and we’re gonna bust our ass for him,” redshirt sophomore Shane McClanahan said after helping secure Mohl’s first win as a head coach.

McClanahan fought through bouts of wildness early to show why he is the ace of this staff. He struck out 11 batters in six innings, and scattered three hits. The lefty from Cape Coral issued five walks in the contest but was able to escape trouble in the third inning after walking the first two batters he faced.

“The slider was really good today,” McClanahan said. “I got squeezed a little bit, in my opinion, but that’s baseball. You gotta just bounce back and get the next guy. [Have] a short-term memory.”

McClanahan touched 97 MPH multiple times throughout the game in front of at least 50 MLB scouts. Some scouts clocked his fastball at 99 MPH.

Junior transfer Alec Wisely got the start at second base and hit leadoff for the Bulls in the season opener. He went 2-for-2 and two walks, including a huge two-run single in the second inning to give USF an early lead against UNC sophomore pitcher Gianluca Dalatri.

Wisely also relieved McClanahan in the seventh inning and pitched 1.1 innings, struck out three batter, but allowed four hits and a three-run home run to Tar Heel 1B Michael Busch to get UNC back into the game.

“We’re gonna have to manage that a little more,” Mohl said of Wisely pulling double duty. “He plays the game hard and it looks like his legs got a little tired and he hung a couple breaking balls , and one was a three-run homer. But, as we go, we’ll start to figure that out a little more.”

Wisely along with freshman Graham Hoffman and sophomore Carson Ragsdale will get playing time as position players and as pitchers so Mohl will not be short on opportunities to figure it out.

Hoffman, wearing former USF Bull Kevin Merrell’s number six jersey did his best Merrell impersonation Friday with an infield single and an RBI-triple.

Closer Andrew Perez was tasked with a five-out save and converted it with little problem. He struck out two batters, including the final out of the night.

The Bulls face UNC again tonight at 7 p.m. Redshirt senior RHP Peter Strzelecki will get the ball for USF.

Notables

  • Shortstop Coco Montes recorded the first hit of the season for USF when he reached on an infield single in the second inning.
  • McClanahan struck out at least 10 batters for the fourth time in his USF career.
  • McClanahan was throwing just outside the dugout between the fifth and sixth inning to stay loose because “UNC is like a human rain delay.”
  • RF Garrett Zech swiped the first bag of the season for the Bulls. He had 17 steals in 2017.
  • Former USF head coach, and really nice guy, Mark Kingston stumbled in his debut with South Carolina, losing 7-6 to VMI. Kingston is a graduate of North Carolina.