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Bulls drop two of three to Central Michigan

Call it six hours and 55 minutes of disappointment.

Actually, it was the whole series with Central Michigan.

The Bulls, coming off a blown-lead loss to Florida on Tuesday, lost two of three games to the Chippewas, including splitting Sunday’s doubleheader.

USF (10-4) lost 18-7, then won 19-9 to Central Michigan (4-5). But following the 9-1 start, one of the best in team history, coach Lelo Prado calls the three games – in which the team gave up 33 runs, committed 10 errors and saw two starting pitchers get rocked for 14 combined earned runs – a “total disappointment.”

“That’s what this whole weekend was,” Prado said. “I mean, I’m proud of them for coming back (in the second game) and scoring 19 runs. Friday night we played terrible … and in the first game today, we battled a little, but our pitching was awful.”

In the first game, the usual Friday night starter Danny Otero (3-2) pitched 6 1/3 innings, but gave up seven earned runs, including a three-run fifth. After starting the season with a 0.41 ERA, the senior transfer from Duke’s ERA has ballooned to 2.70.

Otero got pushed back to a Saturday start, but then became the Game 1 starter when rain forced the Bulls to schedule the doubleheader.

“Otero is supposed to be our stud,” Prado said. “He’s got to pitch better than what he did, because if he doesn’t, then we’re in trouble.”

Junior starter Chris Delaney didn’t fare any better an hour after the 18-7 drubbing by the Chippewas. Delaney (2-0) lasted just two innings – but in the second, the Tampa native gave up seven runs, including a grand slam by Central Michigan designated hitter Scott Szpyrka.

Prado also wasn’t happy with the number of errors committed.

“The errors were awful,” Prado said. “(Shortstop Walter) Diaz has got to get better. (Third baseman Addison) Maruszak has got to get better. We drop fly balls – if they can’t make the plays, we’ll find someone who can.”

The Bulls, as Prado saw it, found few bright spots over the three games against a Chippewa team that lost only 23 of 58 games last season.

First baseman Brandin Daniel continued to swing a hot bat, going 6-for-12 with six RBI and a home run, and centerfielder Joey Angelbeger hit two home runs and went 4-for-10 with six RBI.

“Daniel has been on the ball all year. We expect him to do that for us,” Prado said, adding that Angelberger “still has to wake up out there. … A junior needs to play smarter to play at this level.”

Added Angelberger, “Yeah, this (series) was a big letdown. … A lot can happen in baseball. You’re going to make errors, but we let them snowball. One will run into another and into another. We just have to move past them.”

Daniel, who is batting a team-high .420 with more than 45 plate appearances, agreed the team will make errors from time to time, but has to concentrate more to stop the errors from recurring each inning.

“I really can’t say what (the errors are from),” Daniel said. “You get a bad hop, you misread the ball – stuff happens.”

Prado wasn’t happy with the errors Sunday, but he was even less pleased with his players, and he has said before if the job doesn’t get done, then he’ll find someone else who can do it.

“We won’t be satisfied with winning one out of three games,” Prado said. “We won’t accept it, or we’ll get new baseball players.”