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Bulls win tight games, take series in Pittsburgh

Published: Monday, April 16, 2012

Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 00:04

ORACLE PHOTO/TONY GORDON

ORACLE PHOTO/TONY GORDON

Joey Lovecchio improved to 7-0 this season with a win Saturday over the Panthers.

A lethargic start to the weekend series against Pittsburgh was a distant memory for the Bulls by Sunday, as they bounced back from a 2-1 loss with 6-5 and 9-8 victories.

“In my six years here, I think this is the first of those years that we would have won a game like this,” coach Lelo Prado said of Sunday’s finale. “But we can’t get satisfied. These next three weeks we play some great teams.”

Sunday’s series finale provided two opportunities for the Bulls — the chance to win a fourth-consecutive Big East series and the chance to take sole possession of the top spot in the league.

Staring at a 3-0 deficit in the fourth, senior Daniel Rockhold hit his team-leading sixth home run of the year to get the scoring started. The offense came out in full force in the fifth inning, scoring five runs to take a 6-5 lead, led by an RBI single by Luis Llerena and a bases-loaded double from Rockhold to score two more.

Chad Taylor and James Ramsay picked up RBIs in the eighth, when the Bulls took an 8-7 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Kyle Teaf sealed the 9-8 victory with a run-scoring single in the top of the ninth.

Andrew Barbosa drew the short straw to start the series Friday night, as his solid start resulted in a loss because of a lack of offensive support. The senior southpaw pitched six innings, allowing just four hits and two runs, while striking out seven.

Unfortunately for Barbosa, Matt Wotherspoon was even better for Pittsburgh, pitching 8.1 innings and allowing just one run, a solo home run from Todd Brazeal in the seventh. The lack of run support sent the Bulls to a 2-1 loss to start the series.

On Saturday night, Joey Lovecchio, who was 6-0 entering the game, looked to continue his dominant season. Lovecchio pitched six innings and allowed four runs, three of which were in the first inning, but the USF offense carried the junior to his seventh win of the year, preserving his unbeaten record.

After Lovecchio’s rough start, the Bulls’ offense and defense settled in. Brazeal hit his second home run of the series, a three-run shot in the fourth inning, giving the Bulls a 5-3 lead. Brazeal chipped in an RBI single in the eighth as well, picking up his fifth RBI in the first two games of the series to seal the 6-5 win.

“We played well, our hitters did what they had to do, our bullpen did what they had to do, a lot of guys played their game and did their job,” Prado said. “That’s why we won two out of three.”

After back-to-back, come-from-behind wins, the Bulls look to improve their record with a weekday game in Daytona on Tuesday against Bethune-Cookman, before returning home for a weekend series against Louisville.

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