USF baseball heads to Houston for 3-game series

Posted: April 17, 2014 in Baseball
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The Bulls hit the road and will try to improve on their 21-15 (7-5) record as they take on 12th ranked Houston. The Cougars are 27-9 on the year including 19-5 at home, but are just 4-5 in the AAC. USF sits in third place in the conference while Houston sits in 5th, making this a critical series for both teams, especially for USF who needs to bolster their resume late in the year (game tonight starts at 7:30 PM, Friday is set for 7:30 PM and finale on Saturday is at 1 PM).

At the plate, the Cougars bring a very balanced batting order that collectively hits over .260 as a team. They are led by sophomore outfielder Kyle Survance who is batting .312 with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run and has driven in 20 runs as well as scored 20 runs and stolen 19 bases out of 23 attempts. Senior 1st baseman Casey Grayson is batting .302 with 9 doubles, 3 home runs, and has 22 RBIs on the season. Senior infielder Frankie Ratcliff is batting .295 with 5 doubles, 1 home run, and has scored 26 runs while stealing 14 bases out of 17 attempts. Sophomore outfielder Ashford Fulmer is batting .282 with 6 doubles, 3 home runs, and has driven in 21 runs to round out the power of their batting order.

The USF pitching staff will have to be at their best in this game. Jimmy Herget and Casey Mulholland have pitched well all year, but they will need arms like Jordan Strittmatter and Janick Serrallonga (among others) to close down games on the backend.

On the mound, the Cougars have one of the best staffs in the AAC. They have a collective ERA of just 1.82, meaning fans should expect a very low scoring series.

The Cougars have two ace pitchers. Junior RHP Aaron Garza is 6-3 on the season with a 1.79 ERA. He has pitched 65.1 innings, allowing 52 hits, 19 runs, 4 walks and has struck out 37 batters, showing incredible command of the zone. Joining him is sophomore RHP Jake Lemoine who is 5-2 with a 1.34 ERA. Lemoine has pitched 60.2 innings, allowing 40 hits, 13 runs, 14 walks and has struck out 51 batters. Aside from the two starters, Houston has several other top arms to contend with. Senior RHP Chase Wellbrock is 2-0 with 7 saves and a .78 ERA on the season. He has thrown 23 innings, allowing 21 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks and has struck out 24 batters. Junior RHP Jared Robinson is 2-1 with a 2.23 ERA. He has pitched 27.2 innings, allowing 19 hits, 10 runs, 7 walks and has struck out 20 batters. A key stat among the Houston pitching staff is the few number of walks and runs allowed and the high number of strike outs among all of the arms. The Houston staff attacks the strike zone and will be a challenge for the USF hitters. Batters like Kyle Teaf and Lawrence Pardo, who have been hot lately, will have to continue to work counts and force the Houston pitchers to serve up something they can handle.

This is a very important series for the Bulls if they want to even think about the NCAA tournament. USF has an RPI ranking of 168 (per NCAA) and a strength of schedule of 201. If the Bulls want to be in the conversation for a postseason bid, winning 2 out of 3 over a ranked Houston squad would be a huge boost to their resume, but it won’t be easy.


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