Despite having left-handed ace Shane McClanahan on the mound, the USF baseball team couldn’t overcome a six-run second inning and fell short in a 6-4 loss to UConn on Friday night at the USF Baseball Stadium to open American Athletic Conference play.
The Bulls (16-6) lefty allowed a career-high six runs in four innings, walked three and struck out five on 92 pitches. The six hits allowed also tied a career-high for McClanahan.
“It wasn’t the Shane we were used to seeing,” head coach Billy Mohl said. “He had the adrenaline going a little too much, and in this league you have to throw something else besides a fastball.”
A long leadoff home run by the Huskies designated hitter Isaac Feldstein in the second inning snapped McClanahan’s season-long scoreless streak at 31.2 innings and put UConn up 1-0 early.
After making it 2-0, McClanahan walked both the No. 8 and No. 9 Huskies hitters before allowing the dagger. A grand slam by Anthony Prato pushed the UConn lead to 6-0 and put the Bulls in a deep hole.
The Huskies (11-7) wouldn’t score again and the Bulls rallied with one in the fourth and three in the eighth to make it interesting late.
Junior second baseman J.D Dutka was a bright spot offensively for the Bulls, finishing with an impressive two doubles, going 3-for-4 with an RBI.
Following McClanahan’s departure in the fifth, sophomore LHP Noah Yager shut the door allowing only four hits and striking out five in five shutout innings of work.
“Noah was fantastic, he did exactly what we needed him to do,” Mohl added. “He finished the game for us and saved our bullpen so hats off to him.”
The Bulls brought the tying-run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth but a 6-4-3 groundball double play off the bat of Duke Stunkel Jr. ended any hope of a dramatic comeback.
USF will look for a bounceback win in Game 2 of the series tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. when RHP Peter Strzelecki takes to the hill.