Meet USF Baseball’s 2022 Returning Contributors

Brewin Features – Returning Contributors

Jack Jasiak – (r-SO) – RHP

Brad Lord – (r-JR) – RHP

Nelson Rivera – (SO) – C

Joaquin Monque – (SO) – C/1B/OF

Nick Gonzalez – (r-JR) – SS

Orion Kerkering – (r-SO) – RHP

Joseph Sanchez – (r-SR) – LHP

Roberto Peña – (r-JR) – IF/OF

Matt Ruiz – (SO) – IF/OF

Carmine Lane – (r-SO) – 3B/LF

Jack Jasiak

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Returning Contributors)
Jack Jasiak – RHP
Springstead High School (Spring Hill, FL) 
6’1” 198 lbs
Nickname: The Mechanic, Smooth Jazz

*Note: This is the 10th feature focused on “Contributors”. The “Contributors” are players that were on USF’s roster last year and played a big role in the best season in school history. 

Jack Jasiak returns for his 3rd season with the USF Bulls.

Originally born in Illinois, Jack and his family moved to Spring Hill, Florida when he was 5 years old. It was there that Jack would go on to play for Springstead High School and develop into one of the top right handed prep pitchers in the state of Florida.

In Coach Billy Mohl’s 2019 recruiting class, Jack was the highest rated recruit (according to Perfect Game) who is still with the program. Jack was dominant at the high school level posting a career statline of 162.2 innings pitched, 243 strikeouts, only 24 walks, and a 1.08 ERA. He also was a solid hitter for Springstead, posting a career .362 batting average in 260 at bats.

When Jack arrived at USF in the fall of 2019, all the focus was on his pitching. His first season with the Bulls was the COVID shortened spring 2020 season. Although the season was shortened, Jack made it clear that he was the Bulls ace pitcher of the future. He earned the #2 spot in the starting rotation as a true freshman. In his first career college start, Jack threw 7 innings, only allowed 1 run, and struck out 9 in a team win against Marist.

Across 4 starts in the spring of 2020, Jack pitched 23.1 innings, posted a 3.09 ERA and struck out 29 batters. When the fall of 2020 rolled around, Jack continued to improve and earned the #1 spot in the starting rotation for the 2020-2021 season. In Jack’s spring 2021 debut on February 20th against FGCU, he threw 6.1 innings, allowed 0 runs, and struck out 5. That marked the beginning of what would be a very successful spring for Jack.

As the season went on, the Bulls experienced a lot of ups and downs as a team but Jack was a consistent performer as an individual. The Bulls eventually got hot as a team towards the end of the season, and that appeared to ignite Jack to another level. 

In the AAC Conference Championship in Clearwater, the Bulls won their opening game. This placed the Bulls in the winner’s bracket and set them up with a matchup against Tulane for a spot in the AAC Semi-Finals at stake. Jack was given the ball for that matchup with Tulane and he delivered one of the best individual performances in USF Baseball history. Jack went 8.2 innings, allowed 0 runs, struck out 12, only walked 1, and only allowed 2 hits in a team victory.

The Bulls went on to win the AAC tournament and Jack would also pitch in both the NCAA Regional and a NCAA Super-Regional later that season. He performed well in both of his starts and helped the Bulls capture their first ever NCAA Regional Championship.

Jack’s development continued throughout the rest of 2021 as he pitched in the prestigious Cape Cod League for the Falmouth Commodores during the summer. As the 2022 season is approaching, Jack has been receiving his fair share of preseason recognition. He was voted as a unanimous preseason All-AAC player by the AAC Coaches.

The Bulls’ ace pitcher is hungrier than ever in 2022. In what could be his final year with the team, Jack is looking to get the Bulls to Omaha and to hear his name called in the MLB Draft which he is now eligible for. We’re excited to see The Mechanic back at work.

Brad Lord

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Returning Contributors)
Brad Lord – RHP
Wakulla High School (Crawfordville, FL) 
6’3” 210 lbs

*Note: This is the 9th feature focused on “Contributors”. The “Contributors” are players that were on USF’s roster last year and played a big role in the best season in school history. 

Want to support your Bulls? Donate to the USF Baseball Operating Fund, get your Brewin merchandise, and come help us #PackTheRed on Opening Day, Friday, February 18th, 2022!

Brad Lord returns for his 2nd season with the USF Bulls and 4th in college overall. 

Brad’s first two years of college baseball were in the JUCO ranks. After wrapping up a successful career at Wakulla High School, Brad started his college career at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, FL. He pitched at Gulf Coast in the spring of 2019 but after one season there, transferred to Santa Fe State College in Gainesville, FL for the 2020 season.

During Brad’s two years in JUCO he did enough to attract attention from USF’s Coaches. In the spring of 2020 at Santa Fe, Brad pitched 18.1 innings to a 3.44 ERA before the season was cut short due to COVID. Brad appeared in 7 games and started 3 that spring as part of the same pitching staff that featured another current USF pitcher, Devin Hemenway.

Upon arriving at USF in the fall of 2020, Brad immediately stood out from the pack. In the fall, he was throwing a fastball between 94-96 mph with above average command. Brad’s impressive showing in the fall earned him the #2 spot in USF’s starting rotation behind Jack Jasiak. 

As the 2021 season got started, Brad experienced a mixed bag of results. His start vs. FGCU during opening weekend was rough as he allowed 5 runs in 3.2 innings. Then his second start vs. FAMU was great as he threw 7 innings of shutout ball in a team win. His next two starts did not go too well though and he lost his spot in the starting rotation.

During Brad’s 5th appearance of the season, which came out of the bullpen he also got roughed up. This could have easily been a breaking point for the young pitcher. He got demoted to the bullpen and still struggled in that reduced role. However, Brad’s determination and talent ultimately shined through and he was able to get back on track the rest of the season. 

Brad’s 6th and 7th appearances of the season also came out of the bullpen but this time he pitched well. Over those two games, Brad pitched 3.2 innings and only allowed 1 run. These strong performances helped him get his spot back in the starting rotation. When Brad got this second chance as a starting pitcher, he rose to the occasion and never looked back.

For the rest of the season, Brad pitched like a 1st-Team All-Conference candidate. Over the course of 42.1 innings to finish the season, Brad compiled an outstanding 2.98 ERA and 38 strikeouts to only 8 walks (4.75 K:BB). 

Brad’s resurgence was highlighted by an extremely clutch performance in the AAC Conference Championship in Clearwater, FL. The Bulls were in the AAC semi-final game against Tulane. If the Bulls lost that game, their season was over. If they won, they would play in the AAC Finals the next day. Brad answered the call by throwing 6 innings of shutout ball and striking out 8. The Bulls went on to win by a score of 7 to 1 and the rest is history.

The story of Brad’s 2021 season is one of persistence and redemption. The Bulls coaches were right in their assessment that Brad should be a top of the rotation starter. Brad just needed to believe it himself. Once that clicked with him, the Bulls got a guy performing at an All-Conference level. Don’t be surprised if he actually makes the All-Conference team in 2022. We sure won’t!

Nelson Rivera

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Returning Contributors)
Nelson Rivera – C
Leadership Christian Academy (Toa Alto, Puerto Rico) 
6’0” 200 lbs
Nicknames: Nelly, Lil Yadi

*Note: This is the 8th feature focused on “Contributors”. The “Contributors” are players that were on USF’s roster last year and played a big role in the best season in school history. 

Want to support your Bulls? Donate to the USF Baseball Operating Fund, get your Brewin merchandise, and come help us #PackTheRed on Opening Day, Friday, February 18th, 2022!

Nelson Rivera returns for his 2nd season with USF. As a true freshman, Nelson made a big impact with the Bulls, especially towards the end of the season.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Nelson grew up there and went to high school there before moving to the U.S. to play college baseball. Growing up in Puerto Rico, Nelson had plenty of inspiration for being a great catcher. MLB star catchers that come from PR include Jorge Posada, Yadier Molina, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, and Christian Vazquez.

In Nelson’s 1st year with USF, he appeared in 37 of the team’s 61 games. Nelson started at catcher in 22 of those games and was the designated hitter in the other 15. Nelson was the backup catcher for captain Jake Sullivan who has since moved on to pro baseball. With Sullivan gone, Nelson is expected to step into the starting catcher role.

Nelson appears to be well equipped to be USF’s starting catcher. He is advanced defensively in terms of his receiving, blocking and throwing abilities. Also, he showed glimpses last season of what could be a very dangerous bat.

During the final series of the regular season, USF hosted conference opponent East Carolina who was ranked #10 in the nation at that time. Nelson had a great weekend with his bat going 7 for 14 en route to earning AAC Weekly Honor Roll recognition. Nelson’s performance helped the Bulls take 2 out 4 games from ECU which gave the team confidence going into the postseason.

Once the postseason got going, Nelson continued his hot hitting. In 5 games in Clearwater during the AAC Championship, he had a monstrous .476 On Base Percentage while driving in 2 runs and scoring 4. Then over the span of 4 games in Gainesville during the NCAA Regional Championship, Nelson batted .333 (5 for 15) while driving in 4 runs. The performance in Gainesville earned Nelson a spot on the all-tournament team.

Nelson achieved a lot during his 1st year with USF. Now with the departure of Jake Sullivan, he’ll be thrust into a bigger role as the everyday starting catcher. It looks like he is ready. I saw him in the fall during the exhibition game vs. St. Leo and he had a clutch 2 out, RBI double to put the Bulls ahead by a run late in the game. We’re very excited to see Nelly’s year 2.

Joaquin Monque

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Returning Contributors)
Joaquin Monque – C/1B/OF
Cypress Bay HS (Weston, FL) 
6’1” 215 lbs
Nicknames: Joaq, Guac

*Note: This is the 7th feature focused on “Contributors”. The “Contributors” are players that were on USF’s roster last year and played a big role in the best season in school history. 

Want to support your Bulls? Donate to the USF Baseball Operating Fund, get your Brewin merchandise, and come help us #PackTheRed on Opening Day, Friday, February 18th, 2022!

Joaquin Monque returns for his 2nd season with the USF Bulls. As a true freshman, Joaquin earned a substantial amount of playing time.

During the spring of 2021, Joaquin split time between Catcher and Left Field. His Bulls debut occurred on March 13th which was the 12th game of the season. He reached base that game via hit-by-pitch and then the following day he recorded his first two collegiate base hits. In that 2nd game he also recorded his first two collegiate RBIs.

Joaquin continued to earn consistent playing time throughout the rest of March and all of April. When May rolled around, the final month of the regular season, Joaquin got hot. He started off May going 2 for 6 with 2 RBIs, a run and 2 BBs in two games against Cincinnati. Then, the Bulls went on the road to Memphis where Joaquin went 6 for 11 with 4 RBIs, 2 runs, and 4 BBs.

The hot performance in Memphis earned Joaquin a spot on the AAC Weekly Honor Roll as one of the top performers in the conference for that week. Everything was going great, but then Joaquin’s season took an unfortunate turn. Just a day or two after the Memphis series, Joaquin broke his collar bone during a team practice and would go on to miss the rest of the season.

During those final 6 games Joaquin played last spring, he had a 6 game hitting streak, went 8 for 19 (.421 AVG), had 6 RBIs, drew 6 walks, and posted a whopping .977 OPS. If Joaquin is able to produce consistently at this level, the Bulls offense will get another dimension added to an already potent attack. Joaquin is healthy now and had a productive fall camp. We can’t wait to see him pick up where he left off.

Nick Gonzalez

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Returning Contributors)
Nick Gonzalez – SS
Alonso High School (Tampa, FL) 
5’10” 165 lbs
Nicknames: Nicky G, Gonzo, Speedy Gonzalez

*Note: This is the 6th feature focused on “Contributors”. The “Contributors” are players that were on USF’s roster last year and played a big role in the best season in school history. 

Want to support your Bulls? Donate to the USF Baseball Operating Fund, get your Brewin merchandise, and come help us #PackTheRed on Opening Day, Friday, February 18th, 2022!

Nick Gonzalez returns for his 4th season with the USF Bulls. This makes Nick the longest tenured current player in the USF Baseball program.

Nick was born and raised in Tampa and attended local Alonso High School. At Alonso, he was a standout middle infielder. In 164 career at bats he posted an impressive hitting line of .335/.426/.500 (AVG/OBP/SLG).

Nick also made a name for himself on the travel ball and showcase circuit playing with the Dodgers Scout Team. Perfect Game rated Nick a 9 out of 10 recruit and raved about his “solid defensive tools and skills” and “hidden young strength” as a hitter.

When Nick arrived at USF, he quickly burst onto the college baseball scene in the spring of 2019. He started at shortstop as a true freshman and had a huge first weekend at the plate. In Nick’s first 3 college games, he went 7 for 14 with 3 RBIs, 5 runs scored, and a home run. This performance led to him being named the AAC Player of the Week.

After a solid freshman season in 2019, Nick returned for his sophomore season in 2020 and won the starting shortstop job again. Unfortunately, the season was cut short due to COVID and the Bulls only got to play 17 games. Luckily, 2021 provided plenty of opportunities.

In the spring of 2021, Nick’s 3rd season with the program, he started at shortstop in all 61 games. His durability, defense, and veteran leadership at the most important position in the field helped propel the Bulls to their best season in school history.

One great example of his contributions last season came in a key conference series at Memphis. The Bulls were looking for their first series win in AAC play and Nick helped them do it. In a pivotal game 3 match up, Nick went 2 for 3 with a walk, a run, 4 RBIs, and a home run. The home run was a 3 run blast in the 10th inning to break the 4-4 tie. The Bulls went on to win the game 7 to 4 and the series 3 games to 1.

This past summer, Nick played in the North Woods League for the Madison Mallards. In the North Woods League notebook, national baseball writer Patrick Ebert said this of Nick:

“South Florida’s Nick Gonzalez can really play infield defense and may be the best shortstop I’ve seen in the NWL this summer with smooth actions, quick footwork and a strong, accurate arm.”

We’ve seen what he can do with the glove firsthand, but it’s always cool to see a national writer recognize one of our Bulls. 

Nick is back for year 4 and we can’t wait to see what the #saltyvet will bring to the 2022 Bulls.

Orion Kerkering

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Returning Contributors)
Orion Kerkering – RHP
Venice High School (Nokomis, FL) 
6’2” 204 lbs
Nicknames: Kerko, Kerk, Oriono Rivera

*Note: This is the 5th feature focused on “Contributors”. The “Contributors” are players that were on USF’s roster last year and played a big role in the best season in school history. 

Want to support your Bulls? Check out the fundraiser golf tournament, donate to the USF Baseball Operating Fund, or come help us #PackTheRed on Opening Day, Friday, February 18th, 2022!

Orion Kerkering returns for his 3rd season with the USF Bulls. 

Born in Huntington Beach, California, Orion and his family eventually moved to Nokomis, Florida where he would go on to attend Venice High School. Nokomis is a small town in Sarasota County that is about 30 minutes south of downtown Sarasota. #BayMade.

At Venice High School, Orion was a dominant pitcher. Over his high school career, he accumulated a 1.19 ERA, .86 WHIP, and 210 strikeouts across 147.1 innings. According to Perfect Game, Orion was already throwing 91 mph as a high school senior. That placed him in the 96th percentile nationally for his graduating class.

Since arriving at USF in the fall of 2019, Orion has only improved. He was a frequently used pitcher in the COVID shortened 2020 season as a true freshman. Except for a couple rough outings, he performed well for a true freshman. However, his big leap forward came in 2021, which was also a big year for the program as a whole.

In 2021, Kerkering’s 2nd year with the Bulls, he stepped into a super-reliever role. He regularly was counted on to finish games for the Bulls regardless of how many innings it would take. A great example of that was a March 7th, 2021 game against Stetson in which he shut the Hatters out during innings 9, 10, 11 & 12. This allowed Drew Brutcher to win the game on a walk-off in the bottom of the 12th.

That early season game was just foreshadowing of what was to come. Owning a fastball that gets up to 97 mph and a tight slider in the mid-80’s, Kerkering was ready to lead the Bulls deep into the postseason.

Kerkering’s postseason heroics started in Clearwater during the AAC tournament. He got the last out of the Bulls game 2 victory over Tulane which sent them to the semi-finals. In the semi-final elimination game Saturday night, Kerkering pitched the last 3 innings to seal the Bulls 7 to 1 victory. He threw his last pitch that night at 12:27 a.m. Then, less than 12 hours later, the Bulls were on the field facing UCF in the championship game at noon.

The championship game vs. UCF was a back and forth battle. The Bulls were in the lead 8 to 7 when the top of the 8th inning rolled around. Who came out of the bullpen to preserve the lead? That’s right, Kerkering. He came in and threw 2 innings of shutout ball to secure USF’s first conference championship since 1995. 

During the Gainesville Regional, Kerkering got the save in the opening win vs. UF and pitched 4.1 relief innings in the championship game vs. South Alabama to help secure USF’s first ever region championship and super regional appearance.

These strong performances have helped him get the attention of MLB scouts. According to Perfect Game, Kerkering is among the nation’s top 300 prospects for the 2022 MLB Draft. We’re excited to see what Kerkering brings in what could potentially be his final year with the Bulls.

Joseph Sanchez

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Returning Contributors)
Joseph Sanchez – LHP
Terra Institute (Kendall, FL) 
Previous College: Miami-Dade Community College
6’1” 212 lbs
Nicknames: Moneybagg Joe, The Sanchize, Joe-gif Sanchez

*Note: This is the 4th feature focused on “Contributors”. The “Contributors” are players that were on USF’s roster last year and played a big role in the best season in school history. 

Want to support your Bulls? Check out the fundraiser golf tournament, donate to the USF Baseball Operating Fund, or come help us #PackTheRed on Opening Day, Friday, February 18th, 2022!

Joseph Sanchez returns for his 3rd season with the USF Bulls. Before USF, Joe spent 2 seasons at Miami-Dade Community College.

Joe is originally from Kendall, Florida, a neighborhood just outside of Miami. There, he played high school baseball for the Terra Institute from 2015 until 2017. That’s where he first started to show the ability to control and locate his pitches, which is still his strong suit today. Across 3 varsity seasons with Terra, Joe compiled 120 strikeouts vs. just 29 walks over 136.2 innings.

His strong play at Terra and with his travel ball team, Elite Squad Prime, helped him get drafted in the 39th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves. Although he had the opportunity to sign with the Braves, Joe decided to stick to his plan of playing college baseball. At Miami Dade CC, he continued to show great control striking out 36 and only walking 11 in 31 innings.

After wrapping up with Miami Dade CC in the spring of 2019, Joe joined the Bulls for the 2019-2020 season. As we all know, the 2020 season was shortened due to COVID and Joe only got to pitch 5 innings. Fortunately, he was able to keep developing by playing summer ball in the 2020 South Florida Collegiate League where he posted 17 strikeouts to only 1 walk, a 2.55 ERA, and a .91 WHIP across 17.2 innings out of the bullpen.

As Joe’s 2021 season and 2nd year with the Bulls got started, things didn’t go as smooth as usual. Through Joe’s first 9 appearances and 11 innings of the 2021 season, he had a 8.18 ERA. However, things started to turn around during a road series at Houston in late April where he had two scoreless outings out of the bullpen for the Bulls.

From that point forward, Joe became one of the most important pieces of the Bulls pitching staff. Over the course of Joe’s final 10 appearances of the season, which includes those 2 games at Houston, he really got on a hot streak. During that stretch, he pitched 23 innings, recorded 16 strikeouts to only 1 walk, posted a 3.13 ERA, and an incredible WHIP of only .78.

His strong run to close the season earned enough trust from Head Coach Billy Mohl to bring Joe in for one of the biggest moments in USF Baseball history. 

In the Gainesville Regional’s Championship Game, the Bulls led 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th. However, South Alabama was threatening with runners on 2nd and 3rd with only 1 out. That’s when Joe Sanchez entered and miraculously was able to get an infield pop up and a strikeout to preserve the Bulls 4-3 lead. Joe stayed in the game for the bottom of the 9th inning to record the save and the Bulls’ first Regional Championship in school history.

The Bulls’ are really fortunate to have Joe back for a 3rd season with them and his 5th in college. His experience under pressure will be valuable for the Bulls as they fight for a spot in Omaha in 2022. We’re excited to see what The Sanchize has in store for us.

Roberto Pena

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Returning Contributors)
Roberto Peña – IF/OF
Calvary Christian HS (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) 
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
6’2” 200 lbs
Nicknames: Chamo, Baby Miggy

*Note: This is the 3rd feature focused on “Contributors”. The “Contributors” are players that were on USF’s roster last year and played a big role in the best season in school history. 

Want to support your Bulls? Check out the fundraiser golf tournament, donate to the USF Baseball Operating Fund, or come help us #PackTheRed on Opening Day, Friday, February 18th, 2022!

Roberto Pena, aka “Chamo”, returns for his 2nd season with the USF Bulls. He is 1 of 5 returning players that played in every game for the Bulls last season. 

Before arriving at USF, Chamo started his college career at the University of Florida. UF’s 2018 recruiting class was stacked with talent, and Chamo was no exception. He earned his spot on the Gators after leading Calvary Christian (Ft. Lauderdale) to the 2018 state championship. In the championship game, Chamo went 2 for 3 with a double and 3 RBIs en route to a 5 to 1 victory.

After 1 season at UF, Chamo took the JUCO route by attending the College of Central Florida in Ocala. There, he put up video game numbers with a .330/.452/.642 hitting line and 8 home runs. He did that in only 109 at bats before the COVID cancellation in March of 2020. His monster performance that spring got the attention of USF and he ended up with the Bulls for the 2020-2021 season.

At USF, Chamo quickly became a leader for the Bulls vocally and with his playing performances. During a regular season road series at Wichita State in May of 2021, Chamo had an offensive explosion in which he went 8 for 15, had 2 home runs, 3 doubles and 3 stolen bases. The performance earned him AAC Player of the Week and set the tone for the rest of his season. 

His strongest playoff performance came in the AAC Tournament where he helped the Bulls get off to the crucial good start that they needed. The Bulls had to win the AAC Tournament to keep their season alive. Chamo hit a home run in each of the first two games of the tournament. That helped catapult the Bulls into the winners bracket and best postseason run in school history.

Perhaps the best display of his commitment to the team and winning was what he did defensively. A lifelong infielder, the Bulls’ Coaching staff needed a starter to move to the outfield due to injuries. Chamo made a move from 2nd Base to Centerfield and made a ton of key defensive plays for the Bulls in the playoffs despite barely having any outfield experience.

Expectations are sky high for the Bulls in 2022 and Chamo will be a key piece of making those dreams a reality. He is 1st amongst returning players in last season’s home runs (12), 2nd in walk rate (14%), 2nd in steals (7), 2nd in RBIs (40), and 2nd in isolated slugging percentage (.240). We can’t wait to see how his game evolves this upcoming season in the Green & Gold.

Matt Ruiz (H.21)

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Returning Contributors)
Matt Ruiz – IF/OF
American Heritage HS (Plantation, FL)
6’3” 195 lbs
Nicknames: Matty Ice, RUUUUU-IZ, Hialeah Hurricane

*Note: This is the 2nd feature focused on “Contributors”. The “Contributors” are players that were on USF’s roster last year and played a big role in the best season in school history. 

Want to support your Bulls? Check out the fundraiser golf tournament, donate to the USF Baseball Operating Fund, or come help us #PackTheRed on Opening Day, Friday, February 18th, 2022!

Matt Ruiz returns for his 2nd season with the USF Bulls. He started every game last season which is a rare achievement for a true Freshman. Not only did he start every game, he was able to play all over the field defensively. Matt played 5 different positions throughout the season (3B, 2B, CF, SS, LF).

Matt played mostly at 3rd base (31 games) last year but settled in at 2nd base (21 games) during the Bulls postseason run. The move to the middle-infield might be foreshadowing of what is to come. During the fall scrimmage vs. St. Leo, Matt played shortstop. I also saw him playing there during the Green vs. Gold World Series later in the fall.

When you watch Matt play, it’s easy to see why he carved out such a big role immediately upon stepping on campus. As a true Freshman, he showed a very mature approach at the plate. He has a discerning eye and good bat to ball skills. This helped him post the 2nd lowest strikeout rate (19%), 3rd highest walk rate (12%), and 2nd highest On Base Percentage (.385) amongst returning Bulls.

Matt got off to a really hot start in the first two weeks of his college career. He started the year on a 7-game hitting streak which included 6 multi-hit games. During that span he went 17 for 32 to post a .531 batting average. He also drove in 6 runs, scored 8 runs, and went 3 for 3 on stolen bases during those 7 games. It was glaringly obvious that Matt was ready for college baseball.

That success continued throughout the year and was highlighted by strong performances during USF’s historic postseason run. During the AAC tournament, Matt posted a .286/.524/.500 hitting line for a monstrous 1.024 OPS (On Base Plus Slugging). He also made the NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team where he posted a .438 OBP (On Base Percentage).

It’s exciting to think that we’re going to get at least 2 more years of Matt Ruiz (‘23 Draft eligible) . He spent the off-season lifting and training as opposed to playing summer baseball. I liked that move because it helped him put on weight to fill out his 6’3” frame. That should help him unlock more of his power at the plate. He did hit 2 homeruns last season, but with that frame and off-season training, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more in 2022.

Lastly, Matt is a hard-nosed competitor. He’s a good model of the #BunchOfDogs mentality that sparked the Bulls last season. That mindset combined with his physical tools give him the chance to develop into a really special player at USF and beyond.

Carmine Lane

Brewin’ Player Feat. (Returning Contributors)
Carmine Lane – 3B/LF
American Heritage HS (Delray Beach, FL)
6’1” 200 lbs
Nicknames: Niner, Nine, The Hit Man, Lane Train

*Note: This is the 1st feature focused on “Contributors”. The “Contributors” are players that were on USF’s roster last year and played a big role in the best season in school history. 

Want to support your Bulls? Check out the fundraiser golf tournament, donate to the USF Baseball Operating Fund, or come help us #PackTheRed on Opening Day, Friday, February 18th, 2022!

Carmine Lane returns for his 3rd season with the USF Bulls. In his first season, back in the spring of 2020, he immediately carved out a big role as both a pitcher and hitter. However, that season was limited to only 1 month before the COVID cancellation.

His original role as a two-way player was a continuation of what he did in high school. Playing for American Heritage (Delray Beach, FL), Carmine put up insane stats in his senior year (spring 2019). That spring, he led all of south Florida (Palm Beach, Broward, Dade) in home runs with 11. He also posted a 1.35 ERA with 87 strikeouts across 52 innings (15.06 K/9).

I don’t think there’s been many high school baseball players in history that did more for their team in one season. It’s easy to see why the Coaches at USF were willing to give him a chance to be a two way player when he arrived on campus. Although he did well both pitching and hitting that first season, it was decided that Carmine would focus on hitting for his 2nd year.

As the 2021 season got going, Carmine quickly stood out at the plate. He hit safely in 9 of the first 10 games of the season helping the Bulls start with a 7-3 record. He also held it down in left field playing solid defense.

As the season progressed, the solid hitting continued but he found a new place in the field defensively. After switching to 3rd base in the middle of a mid-April win over UCF, Carmine stayed there. I was personally a big fan of that move because playing at third gives him more opportunities to showcase his plus arm strength. 

In the most pivotal time of USF’s season, Carmine shined. The AAC Tournament in Clearwater was everything for the Bulls this past season. The Bulls did not win enough games in the regular season to automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament, so they needed to win the AAC Tournament to keep their season alive. How did Carmine respond to the pressure?

Across 5 games in Clearwater, Carmine batted .304/.333/.609 (.942 OPS) with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs. He helped the Bulls win their first Conference Championship since 1995. For the strong season, he was recognized as a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

You can expect Carmine to come out of the gates hot in 2022. The Bulls want to be an automatic NCAA qualifier with a chance to host a Regional and get to Omaha. Niner will be a big part of making that happen.

P.S. Carmine’s girlfriend and USF Softball player Alexis Buchman is currently battling brain cancer and recently had surgery. If you would like to help, this is the link to the Go Fund Me for her medical expenses. Please keep Carmine, Alexis, and their loved ones in your thoughts and prayers. All support, love, and encouragement is greatly appreciated! #BucCancer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s