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Bulls in Pittsburgh for three-game set

Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012

Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 00:04

With a 3-8 out-of-conference record against Florida teams this season, the USF baseball team likely can’t wait to leave the state and get back to Big East play, which it will get the chance to do Friday when it opens a three-game road series at Pittsburgh.

The Bulls (23-11, 8-1) led Stetson late into Wednesday’s game in DeLand, but let the lead slip away.

“We have no choice but to bounce back,” coach Lelo Prado said. “We had the letdown against Stetson, the one-run lead in the eighth inning, but our bullpen, which had been good this year, couldn’t hold on to a lead.”

A midweek loss to Stetson quelled the Bulls’ momentum after sweeping Cincinnati, but USF proved earlier this year that mid-week hiccups don’t always result in weekend failures.

The Bulls dropped a home game to UCF on March 20, three days before the start of Big East play, and bounced back with a sweep over Georgetown. A home loss to Stetson on April 3 did nothing to stop the Bulls from sweeping Cincinnati that very weekend.

Despite a weak outing in its last game, the USF bullpen, and pitching staff as a whole, has been reliable for the Bulls this season.

Junior Steven Leasure has had a breakout year, pitching 15 innings of relief in which he’s allowed just 11 hits and one earned run, while striking out 12 and doling out two walks. His .60 ERA is second on the team.

“If you’re going to be a good club, you got to pitch and play defense, and we’ve pitched pretty well and played some solid defense this year,” Prado said.

USF’s road inexperience has not resulted in struggles for the team, as the Bulls have won three of their last four road games and are 3-0 in Big East road games.

“I didn’t see anything different in this team from what we saw at home,” he said. “They made the plays and hit when they had to hit. I don’t want my team to be playing differently just because the game is on the road.”

A hot start in the Big East for USF can be attributed to a relatively easy opening schedule, with six games against Georgetown and Cincinnati, who are a combined 4-14 in conference play. The Bulls will move on to Pittsburgh, which is just one game above last-place Cincinnati.

“The games (Pittsburgh) lost, they had leads against both Notre Dame and Cincinnati,” he said. “They’ve just had some bad luck.They have some arms that can make for a very bad weekend for you, and if we go in expecting to beat any team, we’ll lose.”

USF opens the series Friday at 6 p.m. before playing at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

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