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Bulls tame Huskies in key sweep

Published: Monday, May 14, 2012

Updated: Monday, May 14, 2012 01:05

 

Three big innings, three huge wins. In a key series against the UConn Huskies (27-24, 14-10), timely hitting and reliable pitching allowed the Bulls to move into third in the Big East. USF (33-18, 16-8) swept the Huskies with wins of 3-2, 3-0 and 8-3.

“Not just a win, but a sweep of UConn,” coach Lelo Prado said. “I’m proud of them, they faced a lot of criticism, people thought they couldn’t compete at this level.” 

With two wins and a second-place tie under their belt entering the third game of the series, the Bulls brought in Mothers’ Day with style in the final home game of the season. USF took advantage of four Huskies errors in the first two innings of play to score all eight of their runs — five in the first and three in the second.

Matt Reed got the Sunday start after usual starter Derrick Stultz was moved up to Saturday to replace a struggling Joey Lovecchio. Reed responded with a strong performance, going seven solid innings, allowing six hits and three runs and earned the win thanks to big-time run support. Senior Andrew Loynaz pitched a one-hit inning in his final home game, and Steven Leasure finished off the game with a shutout ninth.

“It’s a one-time thing,” Prado said in reference to Reed’s start. “But he did what he had to do, got out and he pitched good”

After Alex Mendez and James Ramsay singled to start the bottom of the first, UConn handed the Bulls the advantage with four errors, resulting in five
runs crossing the plate, giving the Bulls an early advantage. The Bulls landed three more runs in the bottom of the second — RBI singles off the
bats of Daniel Rockhold and Todd Brazeal, along with a sacrifice fly from Kyle Teaf.

“We played well, we pitched great, we did enough offensively. It was a good week for us, but next week might be the biggest week probably since I’ve been here,” Prado said.

Andrew Barbosa and Stultz carried the Bulls to the first two wins of the series. A tough second inning separated Barbosa from a second consecutive shutout, when two hits and two errors gave UConn an early 2-0 advantage. But the senior bounced back with eight strong innings, allowing five hits and two runs while striking out eight in a 3-2 win.

“When we gave him a lead he was really pretty good,” Prado said. “He kept them off stride.”

Stultz had his third consecutive strong outing on Saturday night, allowing just four hits in six shutout innings of work. He was replaced by Austin Adams at the start of the seventh because of blisters in his hands, as a preventative move. His offense had a big fifth inning, much in which three runs crossed the plate, and the Bulls sealed the series with a 3-0 win.

“They have great arms, but you have to compete,” Prado said. We hit the ball hard all game. It’s a great time to get hot.” 

After a key sweep, the Bulls, within one game of first place in the Big East, will prepare for their final series of the season, a three-game set against WVU.

“That’s where we want to be,” said Prado. “I have all the confidence in the world and we’re going out in style.”

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