After a tough four-game stretch in which their only consistency was an inability to put runs on the board, the USF baseball team found its legs in a three-game weekend sweep of the Savannah State Tigers.
The weekend began with a game against the New York Yankees in an exhibition at George Steinbrenner Field. According to coach Lelo Prado, the team’s weekend success actually began with the 11-0 loss to the 27-time world champions.
“I really think (our offensive success) began at the Yankee game,” Prado said. “We were obviously facing great pitching, but we stayed focused and we got some good at-bats, and that got us going for the rest of the weekend.”
After scoring only one run in a 12-1 loss to the UCF Knights last week, USF saw a power surge on Saturday in a doubleheader with the Tigers. Fourteen runs were scored in the first game, aided by two home runs from senior Daniel Rockhold. Yet, the game, which the Bulls won 14-4, wouldn’t be the highest scoring or the most eventful.
Saturday’s second game saw everything from an injury delay to an ejection to a grand slam.
Outfielder Joseph McCrary was injured while sliding into second base in the second inning, causing a lengthy delay. A second delay came in the top of the eighth inning, when Steven Leasure was ejected for hitting the Tigers’ Julius Green with a pitch. Leadoff man Alex Mendez closed the eventful night with a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning, allowing the Bulls a 15-4 win.
With the series already clinched, USF moved into Sunday’s game looking to keep momentum going. A stellar outing from Andrew Barbosa fueled the Bulls to a 5-3 victory, with Barbosa pitching five strong innings, allowing just one hit and striking out six batters.
“It’s the first time he’s pitched well this year,” Prado said. “He’d been getting kind of impatient because he wanted to play well and it just wasn’t happening for him.”
For the weekend, the Bulls outscored the Tigers 34-11, scoring 10 more runs in three games than they had in their first eight games of the season.
“I like our energy, the way we’re playing. If we keep it up, we can become a good ball club,” Prado said.
USF will play its next 19 games at home, including a two-game series with the Jacksonville Dolphins, which begins Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“I love playing at home,” Prado said. “I don’t want to play anywhere else. Why leave when you can play in such a beautiful ballpark?”
To see a gallery of photos from USF’s baseball game against the Yankees and basketball game against West Virginia, as well as read a story about the softball team’s weekend in Clearwater, go to http://www.usforacle.com/multimedia