TAMPA ― The ensemble pitching performance USF delivered Tuesday evening against No. 4 Florida featured some random hiccups.
But more significantly, it also featured only some random hits.
Led by right-handed starter Baron Stuart, five Bulls pitchers combined for a two-hitter in a 6-1 victory against the Gators (3-1) before a standing-room-only crowd of 2,363 at USF Baseball Stadium. The triumph was USF’s first against a top-five foe since its 15-10 victory in Gainesville in 2017.
“It’s big. We want to be known as one of the best programs in the state of Florida,” said Bulls second-year coach Billy Mohl, whose team (3-1) plays at No. 5 North Carolina this weekend.
“And beating what obviously has been the best program in the state of Florida, our guys are feeling pretty good about themselves. But like I told them, we’ve got another four games against top-five (opposition), so don’t get too happy about this.”
Stuart’s four no-hit innings set the tone Tuesday. He needed 85 pitches to get through his stint and hit three batters, but struck out six.
In a second-inning sequence that typified his night, he walked two batters and made a throwing error to first to put runners at the corners, but fanned freshman Jud Fabian on a called third strike.
“Baron’s stuff was really good,” said Mohl, whose pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts. “His free passes killed him not in terms of runs, but in terms of pitch count. ... But his stuff was good enough.”
Junior left-hander Logan Lyle nearly upstaged Stuart five innings later. With runners at the corner and no out, Lyle ― making his Bulls debut ― struck out three consecutive Gators to preserve a 3-1 lead.
Spoto High alumnus Chris Chatfield made it 4-1 in the bottom of the inning with a solo blast. Five batters later, senior Kyle Phillips brought in two more runs with a double to right center.
Senior Joe Genord added a third-inning solo blast for the Bulls, who collected 12 hits off five Gators pitchers.
Contact Joey Knight at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.