Rob Bridenstine

McClanahan’s stellar debut ends in disappointment for USF

The Bulls were finally able to witness the debut of one of the two players that helped them acquire a top 10 recruiting class just two years ago. Unfortunately, the Bulls offense couldn’t rally late for the second straight game.

The South Florida Bulls fell short in their rally after a nearly three hour weather delay, losing their second game of the season, 4-2. As a whole, the pitching staff was able to hold their opponent to only six hits, but couldn’t limit the damage done by three home runs.

Redshirt freshman Shane McClanahan did not disappoint in his highly anticipated collegiate debut, striking out nine batters in his four innings of work. The left-hander’s fastball clocked in at 95 mph, but was also able to successfully throw his off-speed pitch at 88 mph, a seven mph differential.

McClanahan (4.0IP, 9K, 2BB, 1H, 0ER) hadn’t pitched in a game in close to two years after spending all of the 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

“First batter, first pitch it’s butterflies, but after that it’s just baseball,” said McClanahan after the game. “I felt pretty good; knowing that I’ve got all those guys out there to help, back me up, it gives me all the confidence in the world.”

USF was able to take an early lead after junior shortstop Kevin Merrell started the game with a triple from the leadoff spot. Senior outfielder Luke Borders was able to bring Merrell on a sacrifice grounder to first base. That would be the last time that the Bulls would score until the seventh inning.

Senior righty Ryan Valdes came into the game to relieve McClanahan in the fifth, leaving the USF lead intact until he came back out in the sixth. Valdes surrendered only two hits, but both were single run homeruns.

It’s important to keep in mind that Valdes has been tabbed as the fourth starter and is expected to make his first start on Tuesday in Tallahassee against the Florida State Seminoles, for a one game series.

The Bulls’ bats stayed quiet through the bottom of the sixth, but an incoming storm finally made its way to the field, forcing the game to be delayed roughly two hours and 45 minutes.  

After the storm had finally passed, USF began to show signs of life after sophomore first baseman Joe Genord launched a ball over the left-centerfield fence after working a full count, tying the game at 2-2.

The Bulls were not able to retake the lead, or even hold on to the tied game. Senior pitcher Michael Farley pitched the final three innings of the game; looking as if he would be able to keep the Hawkeyes offense at bay.

Farley found himself in a couple precarious situations in the eighth inning as the first two batters he faced worked 3-1 and 3-0 counts respectively. The righty was able to fight his way back and strike out both, but his luck didn’t carry over into the ninth.

Farley gave up a lead-off double to Iowa’s redshirt sophomore left fielder, Chris Whelan. Freshman third baseman Kyle Crowl took full advantage of the opportunity and sent the game winning homerun past left-centerfield.

USF tried one more time to recapture the game as Merrell led the inning with a single line drive to shallow right field and sophomore outfielder Chris Chatfield was hit by a pitch, putting runners on second and first. Borders hit into the 4-6-3 double play, allowing Merrell to advance to third and bringing Genord to take the Bulls’ final at bat.

After two highly questionable (if not blatantly bad calls by home plate umpire Carlos Rey) Genord was struck out looking too end the game.

Sunday’s game between Iowa and USF will take place at Noon and decide the series winner. Junior Peter Strzelecki will be taking the mound to help the Bulls win the rubber match between the two teams.

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