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Bulls look for a way to bounce back tonight

Midway through the long baseball season, the Bulls are faced with something they haven’t had to deal with — how to bounce back after being swept.

USF dropped three important conference games at East Carolina over the weekend, and Coach Eddie Cardieri is looking to see how his team responds as it hosts No. 26 UCF tonight at 7.

“That’s the key,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said. “How do we respond? And that’s what I told the guys before we got off the bus. We have to be able to shake it, put it behind us and play well.”

Tonight’s match-up is the 85th time the Bulls play the Golden Knights. Entering the game, the teams are matched an even 42-42. But the rivalry is not what’s on Cardieri’s mind after the tough weekend.

“I think you need a really tough mental makeup (to bounce back),” Cardieri said. “And I think this team has that. We just have to put (last weekend) behind us.”

UCF, who has been ranked as high as No. 19, is looking for its 30th win of the season while the Bulls look to end the three-game skid. Cardieri seemed to be more interested in his own team than its opponent. He talked about keeping his pitchers fresh for this weekend’s conference match-up against TCU. But he didn’t overlook tonight’s game, which he said has importance.

“They are having a great year so we’ll have our hands full,” Cardieri said. “We just have to play a good game. We can beat anybody if we play a good game of baseball.”

Cardieri named Chase Lirette the tentative starting pitcher for the Bulls.

“That’s subject to change,” Cardieri said. “You could see a host of guys just to keep everybody sharp. We’ll have to see how Chase feels (Tuesday) night.”

Lirette started in game 2 of a double-header Saturday but only threw 50 pitches on the outing. The freshman gave up six runs on four hits including two home runs in the first inning in his worst start of the year.

If Cardieri decides to save Lirette, he said he would go with Nick Manganaro or Daniel Albritton.