ORLANDO – The brutal slide continues.The Bulls (27-16) lost 11-5 to in-state rival Central Florida (19-23) in the teams’ third and final meeting this season Tuesday at Jay Bergman Field in front of a boisterous 1,033 crowd.
Since April 7, the Bulls are 2-7, including a sweep by Rutgers over the weekend.
As far as coach Lelo Prado is concerned, the team better right the ship – and fast.”It’s a joke. It’s a damn joke,” Prado said. “We’ve got to figure something out. We might not win another game the rest of the year with those guys and the way they’re coming out to play.
“I ain’t got nothing to say (to the players). If they don’t know what’s going on, they’re lost – then they don’t need to be at the Division I level.
“It’s just embarrassing. It’s (expletive) embarrassing.”
USF started Darryl Lewis, and the redshirt freshman didn’t fare very well through 2 2/3 innings pitched. In the top of the third, Lewis and reliever Matt Wagner gave up a total of eight runs. By the time junior Davis Billardello stopped the bleeding, the game was out of hand at 10-1.
“I knew when we got off the bus today after a (expletive) weekend that we should have come out ready to play, and we didn’t,” Prado said. “Ten runs later – yeah, we came out in the end, but it’s just awful. We’re awful right (now).
“(Our play) is going to stay awful until the guys in uniform decided to get going (on offense).”
Although shortstop Walter Diaz’s 24-game hitting streak was snapped, third baseman Addison Maruszak shined. He provided some offense in the fifth with a two-RBI double.
The sophomore finished the night 3-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored. Leftfielder Charles Cleveland added an RBI single as well and finished 1-for-4. But USF left 13 runners on base, were out-hit 14-10, struck out seven times and committed an error on defense.
To add insult to injury, with UCF up six runs in the eighth, both teams were jawing at each other on the field, which led to warnings for both coaches.
“They’ve got to right (this slide),” Prado said. “They’re the ones playing the damn game. The damn coaches – I feel bad for my coaches. They’re out there trying to get (the players) going every inning – being cheerleaders. The hell with that.
“They’ve got to wake the hell up and they’ve got to be men, or else they’re out of here at the end of the year.”
Second baseman Dexter Butler, who went 0-for-3 Tuesday, feels that Prado is right: The players have to play better or go home.”It definitely starts with us,” Butler said. “It can come from any one of us at anytime, but it has to be a total team effort. After one of us starts it, it’s going to have to be the whole team after that.”
Diaz, however, feels the slide will end – the team has still been scoring runs (36 in the 2-7 stretch), but has to prove it can break out of this slump.
“We’re struggling little bit right now,” Diaz said. “We’ll snap out of it. … I think we’re prepared to play because every good team goes through a slump. It just depends on how good you are by how long it takes for you to get out of it.”
Butler – who agreed with Diaz that no one should have still been hanging their heads after the sweep by Rutgers, said “there’s plenty of light at the end of the tunnel,” but it won’t be there for long.
“Rutgers was a tough loss because we felt we worked hard at practice and then it didn’t happen,” Butler said. “It didn’t happen tonight either. We’ve really got to make it happen because we’re running out of time.”