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Riding the storm out: Bulls’ late rally not enough

While the USF softball team was informed Sunday that it would be playing in the NCAA Regional Tournament, the baseball team spent the afternoon trying to keep its postseason hopes alive.

Despite scoring three runs in the ninth inning, the Bulls (21-31, 10-14) fell 4-3 to St. John’s (36-15, 15-8) at The Ballpark at St. John’s.

After dropping two of three against the Red Storm, USF is one game ahead of Georgetown for the eighth and final spot in the Big East Tournament. The Bulls will play their final conference series of the season Friday through Sunday against West Virginia.

Coach Eddie Cardieri doesn’t plan on changing USF’s normal preparation routine for its series against the Mountaineers and feels his players will be motivated enough to emerge victorious in the must-wins.

“If it can’t motivate them enough to know that they have to win in order to get in the tournament, then we got the wrong guys,” Cardieri said.

Sophomore Jim Cassidy, who was the only Bull to get two hits Sunday, agreed that the preparation for the final three games won’t be any different than previous games.

“There will just be a little bit more added pressure because we’re on the bubble for the tournament,” Cassidy said. “But we’ll do the same exact thing (to prepare).”

Red Storm pitcher Scott Barnes made it through seven innings, allowing just three hits and giving up one walk.

“Their pitcher, Barnes, did a great job,” Cardieri said. “We never got a man to second base until the seventh inning. He was good; he dominated us.”

Trailing 4-0 in the ninth inning, USF rallied to get within one run when sophomore Brandin Daniel hit a two-RBI single and sophomore Joey Angelberger scored on a passed ball.

But with Daniel in scoring position, sophomore Josh LeRoy grounded out to end the game.

“We were in position to (win the game),” Cardieri said. “And actually, Josh LeRoy hit a ball very hard up the middle, and the high infield grass just kind of killed it and kept it from going through.”

In Friday’s game, junior Casey Hudspeth struck out 11 en route to a 3-2 win for the Bulls, while St. John’s shut out USF 19-0 Saturday.

“I think that was kind of more like a fluke,” Cassidy said about Saturday’s blowout. “We just had a bad day; everyone had a bad day, hitters and pitchers.”