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Missed sweep

USF 5 | Pittsburgh 2

It could have been better.

According to coach Lelo Prado, it should have been.

The Bulls went 3-1 over spring break, and while that may seem impressive – especially considering the team won its Big East opening series against Pittsburgh (7-10, 1-2) – Prado wanted more.

“I was expecting a sweep (of the Panthers),” said Prado, who is 19-11 in two seasons in the Big East (one at Louisville, this season at USF). “We won’t be satisfied winning two-out-of-three from Pitt.”

USF (15-7, 2-1) beat Pittsburgh 5-2 Sunday and 4-2 Friday, but dropped the Saturday match 5-2. The Bulls also beat Miami of Ohio 6-5 on Tuesday.

“There’s usually a down during spring break,” Prado said. “But we finished 3-1 this week, but I was expecting to be 4-0. If we’re going to be Big East champions, we have to sweep the teams we’re supposed to sweep.

“We let one off the hook this weekend, but thank God we won the series.”

Struggles at the plate by some key players are hampering the Bulls’ offense, Prado said.

Over the four games, centerfielder Joey Angelberger went 2-for-13, but has a team-high four outfield assists. First baseman Brandin Daniel went 0-for-15, though he leads the team with 28 RBI and two home runs. Left-fielder Taborelli went 4-for-11, but is second on the team with 17 RBI and two home runs.

Shortstop Walter Diaz, however, went 8-for-15, is batting a team-high .391 and also has a team-high 36 hits.

“(These guys have) got to do stuff on their own,” Prado said. “They’ve got to get in the (batting) cages. They have guys telling them what they are doing wrong and they’re just not learning it. They have to get their butts in the cages and learn to become a good hitter.”

On the other hand, the Bulls are much more solid defensively – so much so the team managed to turn a triple play in the fourth inning Sunday.

Panthers shortstop Dan Williams hit a grounder to third baseman Addison Maruszak, who threw to Dexter Butler on second, who then turned the double play to Daniel. Designated hitter Chris Warner tried to take home on the double play, but Daniel threw the ball to catcher Brad Karns, who tagged out Warner to complete the 5-4-3-2 triple play.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen a triple play like that – going around the horn,” Prado said. “It didn’t start impressive. I didn’t think they were going to turn it, but the key was Dexter Butler getting it to first base quickly.”

Added Butler: “I didn’t even know (Warner) was going home. … That’s the first time I’ve been involved in a triple play.”

Flashy defense aside, Prado remains concerned – even agitated – by his players’ struggles at the plate.

“We have a lot of guys struggling offensively that we need to get going,” Prado said. “We’ve got to swing the bats better. We’ve got too many guys struggling. … We need a spark somewhere, but a couple days on the bench won’t hurt anybody.”

Maruszak, who made three errors during the weekend games, said the players have to continue to be resilient.

“I made those costly errors … I just didn’t do my job,” said the third baseman, who leads the team with 11 errors. “I came into today’s game focused, practicing (ground balls) right before the game. That’s what our team’s got to do, and they’ve been doing it. When they make mistakes, they have been bouncing back the next day and practicing so they won’t make that mistake again.”