The Big East Baseball Championships played out in front of sparse crowds at Bright House Field in Clearwater last week with one notable absentee.
USF finished the season in ninth place in the conference standings, falling one spot short of a berth in the double-elimination tournament.
If the coaches and players weren’t already embarrassed by the fact that they didn’t qualify, they would have been even more disheartened to see that the championship game was contested between Seton Hall and St. John’s. The Bulls went a combined 5-1 against those teams.
Seton Hall entered the tournament as the fifth seed and left as champions with an automatic berth into the NCAA regionals. There was a scenario on the final day of the season where the Bulls would not only have qualified for the tournament, but also could have climbed all the way up to the fifth seed.
It seems preposterous that a team located in the fertile recruiting grounds of Florida could miss out on the tournament of a weak Big East conference that only placed three teams in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. The Big East certainly wasn’t expecting it, as evidenced by the image of USF starting pitcher Andrew Barbosa on the official tournament posters.
It certainly didn’t help that Barbosa himself missed almost the entire season after Tommy John surgery, but the Bulls still should have at least earned a spot on the field.
USF was in position to qualify until a late-season sweep at the hands of Notre Dame made the Bulls’ tournament status unclear. The Fighting Irish would sneak into the tournament as the eighth seed – just half a game ahead of USF.
The new stadium is a major recruiting draw, but postseason appearances could be even more valuable.