Bulls fall to Connecticut in final game at Red McEwen

The final series at Red McEwen Field did not end the way USF had hoped.

After dominating the Connecticut Huskies with a 12-1 victory Friday, USF got outscored 23-8 and lost the final two games of the series.

“We didn’t get it done after Friday,” said coach Lelo Prado. “We played terrible defense.”

USF, which has played at the stadium since 1967, will play next season in a new facility that will seat up to 4,000 fans.

“I’m excited about it,” Prado said. “It’s something that we needed, and it’s been a long time coming.”

Junior pitcher Randy Fontanez appeared to get USF back on track in the first game of the series after the team dropped its previous three. Fontanez struck out six in seven innings, allowing just one run on four hits. He did not walk a batter in his fifth win of the season.

With the win Friday, USF clinched a spot in the Big East tournament, which includes the conference’s top eight teams.

“Of course, when Randy’s on the mound, you’ve got a chance to win,” Prado said after the win. “He’s a total team player. The guys want to win for him.”

USF, however, struggled the rest of the series, committing nine total errors over the last two games en route to consecutive losses

On Saturday, the Bulls got down 3-0 early but responded with a four-run fourth inning. Things appeared to be going smoothly until a treacherous sixth inning, in which the Huskies piled on 10 runs to solidify a 13-5 victory, outhitting USF 17-10. USF committed seven errors in the game, three of them coming from senior center fielder Ryan Lockwood. He bobbled a ball near the wall in center field, making way for an inside-the-park home run by the Huskies.

Junior left-hander Andrew Barbosa usually pitches on Saturdays, but was unable to do so after taking a line drive off of his lower leg last week.

“It killed us,” Prado said of not having Barbosa. “You’re talking about him and (senior starter) Teddy (Kaufman) who have both been injured … I just hope they’ll be able to pitch for us in the tournament.”

Kaufman has missed time with tightness in his forearm.

Barbosa has a team-low 2.42 ERA and leads all starters with six wins. Prado said Barbosa could return for the series at Pittsburgh next weekend to wrap up the regular season.

USF (23-29,14-10) will start Big East tournament play May 26, following the series at Pittsburgh.

Sunday’s game didn’t go much better as USF got down 4-0 in the first and never recovered. The Huskies led 10-3 in the top of the eighth when the game was delayed because of lightning. It was eventually called as the weather worsened.

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