TAMPA, Fla. – The Stetson Hatters got off to a slow start against homestanding South Florida on Tuesday night and, despite a valiant late effort, were unable to make up the deficit in a 12-8 loss to the Bulls.
After falling behind 10-2 through six innings, the Hatters scored six runs late, including four in the ninth inning.
Stetson falls to 13-16 with the loss while South Florida improved to 15-14 on the year.
USF wasted no time in jumping on the Hatters and starting pitcher Chad Rood (0-1), scoring a pair of runs in the first inning on two hits, and with the help of a Stetson error. Kyle Teaf led off the frame with a double to the gap in right center. Alex Mendez followed with a hard smash to first base, but Patrick Mazeika was unable to come up with the ball, giving the Bulls runners on the corner.
After getting an infield pop, Jimmy Falla ripped an RBI single to left center and moved up on a throw to third. Chris Norton then delivered a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 Bulls lead.
Things got worse for Stetson and Rood in the second inning as the Bulls piled on four more runs, on six hits. Reliever Adam Schaly finally put an end to the rally after giving up two hits and an intentional walk by getting an inning-ending double play.
The big hits in the inning for USF were RBI singles by Teaf, Mendez, James Ramsay and a run-scoring doubly by Falla.
The Hatters answered in the third plating a pair of runs thanks in large part to three walks by USF starting pitcher Mike Clarkson. Even with the walks, it took a two-out single by Garrett Russini to drive in the first runs of the night for Stetson.
USF tacked on two more runs in the fourth as the duo of Teaf and Falla struck again. Teaf singled to open the inning and scored on a single by Falla. Falla then raced across the plate on a heads up play, scoring from second on an infield single as Schaly protested a close play at first.
The Bulls continues to add runs, scoring twice in the sixth when Austin Lueck delivered a two-out, pinch-hit single off reliever Garrison Banas to plate Falla and Chris Norton.
Stetson answered with a single run in the seventh. Tyler Bocock followed a single by Kevin Fagan and a wild pitch by reliever Lawrence Pardo with an RBI single to left. Russini added to the run total in the eighth when he blasted a leadoff homer off Steven Leasure.
After USF plated two runs in the eighth inning on a two-out single by Nick Alfonso, the Hatters made their final rally in the ninth.
With Bulls’ closer Chad Taylor on the mound, the Hatters pushed across four runs thanks to two singles, three walks, a passed ball and a USF error. Konner Lutz delivered the big blow with a two-run single. USF called on left-fielder Alex Mendez to come to the mound with two on and one out, and he retired Kyle Pitts on a line out and Tanner Blackman on a strikeout to earn his first save.
Justin Patrick (1-0) was the second of six USF pitchers in the game and earned the victory with two shutout innings of work.
The Hatters finished with 10 hits in the game, with Fagan, Russini and Lutz accounting for two each.The Bulls’ 15-hit attack was led by Falla with four and Teaf with three.
Stetson will return to action on Friday night when they open an Atlantic Sun Conference series at Jacksonville.