Aided by three USF errors, and a bumpy first start for redshirt-senior Peter Strzelecki, the No. 6 North Carolina Tar Heels jumped ahead early and continued to pour it on in a 12-5 rout of the Bulls on Saturday night at USF Baseball Stadium.
“Pete wasn’t at his sharpest today,” head coach Billy Mohl said. “They obviously had a chip on their shoulder from last night, and it didn’t go our way.”
The Bulls right-handed starter lasted only four innings, allowing eleven runs (nine earned), on ten hits and four walks.
Fueled by several infield singles, and then a three-run homer by catcher Brandon Martorano, North Carolina scored six times in the top half of the first inning to put the Bulls in an early hole.
The Tar Heels loaded the bases at least once in the first three innings, scoring in all of them to push their lead to 9-1 at the end of three.
“It’s the game of baseball, we got some bad breaks early,” Mohl added. “We continued to compete and the guys kept fighting until the end, that’s all you can ask for.”
USF responded in the bottom half of the first inning when Joe Genord picked up an RBI single in what turned out to be one of the few Bulls offensive highlights.
A two-run homer by David Villar in the bottom of the eighth, and a Chris Chatfield solo home run in the ninth cut the deficit to 12-5.
Bullpen arms, Noah Yager, Richie Cruz, Connor Eason, and Baron Stuart all saw their first action of the season for USF.
Yager, Eason and Stuart pitched one inning of scoreless ball, respectively. Cruz tossed two innings of relief, allowing three hits and a run.
“We have (Collin) Sullivan on the mound for us tomorrow,” Mohl added. “It will be the biggest start of his career, and we have the bullpen loaded and ready to go if needed.”
The rubber match is scheduled for noon tomorrow at USF Baseball Stadium.