Baseball: Bulls embark on critical closing stretch
Statement time has arrived, and the Bulls can ill afford to squander a syllable.
USF's case for an NCAA regional must commence tonight at Houston's Cougar Field, where the Bulls (21-15, 7-5 American Athletic Conference) embark on a three-game series against the 12th-ranked Cougars (27-9, 4-5).
Any postponement of momentum will be too late. The Bulls, 0-4 against ranked opposition this year, not only must find their groove tonight, but remain in it. If they can, a postseason berth is salvageable.
Half of USF's last 20 games are against teams ranked in a top-25 poll, with seven of those on the road. A 7-3 record against ranked foes down the stretch would give USF a .500 season mark against top-25 teams and boost its feeble RPI (159th per college RPI expert Warren Nolan).
The Bulls enter tonight's game on a two-game win streak following Tuesday's 10-3 home rout of Stetson. They take a .270 team batting average into the Houston series, where they'll face a weekend rotation with a collective ERA below 2.50.
Bulls sophomore RHP Jimmy Herget (5-4), whose 1.03 ERA leads the conference, starts tonight, followed by junior RHP Casey Mulholland (3-0, 3.19 ERA) on Friday and redshirt freshman RHP Tommy Peterson (3-1, 1.93) on Saturday.