CLEARWATER A three-game sweep over the reigning regular season conference champions was a difficult task in itself, and a fourth win in two weeks proved too much of a challenge for the USF baseball team.
The Bulls fell to the Connecticut Huskies in their first game of the Big East Tournament, putting themselves on the wrong side of the bracket after one day in Clearwater with a 7-2 loss.
Senior ace Andrew Barbosa was unable to live up to his all-Big East first team billing Wednesday night, struggling early and taking the loss. The Huskies broke through the southpaw for four runs in the first six innings, and rode David Fischers strong
outing to a win.
You look at the numbers, the numbers dont lie, coach Lelo Prado said. In a tournament game, you have to pick up key hits, and we couldnt do that.
A somewhat anti-climatic end to the regular season seeped into the start of USFs postseason run, as offensive frustrations spelled a loss for the Bulls. The Bulls were unable to take advantage of runners in scoring position, leaving nine men on base.
Momentum seemed to shift to the Huskies in the fifth, when the USF offense was unable to take advantage of a golden opportunity. Back-to-back hits from Luis Llerena and James Ramsay got runners on the corners with no outs in a 2-1 game. Despite being a swing away from taking the lead, a failed bunt resulted in a rundown that caught Kyle Teaf at third, and a strikeout and groundout ended the USF threat with no damage done.
UConn pitcher David Fischer, who had pitched back-to-back eight-inning outings, was strong again, going 6.2 innings and allowing just two runs, despite giving up eight hits. The senior righty was able to get out of multiple jams, stranding the Bulls in all but one inning.
They played a lot better than (during the weekend sweep), Prado said. I told them that when we found out we were playing UConn.
Thanks to the double-elimination, round-robin style of the Big East Tournament, the Bulls will have an opportunity to get back in the win column immediately. USF will match up against the Pittsburgh Panthers, who lost to the top-seeded Cardinals in the evening game, today at 5 p.m.
In their last encounter in April, the Bulls bounced back from a Friday-night loss to win the final two games of the series in Pittsburgh.
We have Pittsburgh tomorrow, Prado finished, and we just have to take it one pitch and one inning at a time, and hopefully we move on.