As USF heads into its final series of the regular season, the biggest question the team faces is whether junior left-hander Andrew Barbosa will return to the pitching rotation.
Barbosa, who has a 6-2 record with a team-low 2.42 ERA this season, was hit in his lower left leg by a line drive against Villanova on April 24.
He tried to work through the lingering injury in his last start May 8 against St. John’s, but he had to come out of the game after pitching just 1 1/3 innings.
USF (23-29, 14-10), which clinched a spot in the upcoming Big East tournament, sits fifth in the conference standings ahead of Rutgers, while Pittsburgh is in third. The series at Pittsburgh this weekend will impact the Bulls’ seeding.
“It’s a real important series because we want to have a good feeling heading into the Big East tournament,” said outfielder Junior Carlin.
Barbosa was clearly missed last weekend when USF dropped the final two games of a three-game series against Connecticut, which is currently first in the Big East.
On Friday, junior Randy Fontanez led USF to a 12-1 victory, giving up only one earned run in seven innings. Fontanez leads the conference in strikeouts (91) and innings pitched (95 2/3).
“We have a lot of confidence in games when it comes to them pitching,” Carlin said of Barbosa and Fontanez. “Hopefully, Andrew will be back, fully recovered and ready to pitch.”
The last two games over the weekend, however, saw USF’s starters struggle, as neither senior Andrew Salgueiro nor sophomore Jimmy Moran made it out of the third.
Fontanez will start for the Bulls tonight at 6. The other two weekend starters are yet to be determined as the team monitors the status of Barbosa’s injury. If he can’t go, Moran (1-0, 3.90 ERA) will take his spot. Other potential weekend starters are senior Matt Quevedo, Salgueiro and sophomore Matt Reed.