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Walking to a win

The baseball team comes back from a four-run deficit, scoring the winning run on four balls.

By the time the ninth inning rolled around Wednesday against FAMU, there’s not much that could’ve made coach Lelo Prado happy – not even a walk-off win.

The Bulls trailed the Rattlers (1-27) for the second straight day, and although they came away with an 11-10 win after Dexter Butler drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning, Prado was disappointed that USF even had to bat in the ninth.

The Bulls (20-8) trailed FAMU until the sixth inning when six consecutive USF batters reached base on either a walk or being hit by a pitch. The Bulls finished the inning with seven runs, giving them a three-run lead and what appeared to be the game’s momentum, but the Rattlers came right back and tied the game in the top of the seventh.

“This is disappointing,” Prado said. “If we’re going to be a great baseball team, this can’t happen. It just can’t happen. I’m not very happy going into the weekend.”

USF regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh with a two-RBI single from Walter Diaz, but FAMU tied it again in the ninth when the Rattlers got three straight hits to open the inning and eventually scored two runs. FAMU’s first hit in the ninth came when third baseman Victor Pina couldn’t handle a ball that was hit his way. The play was initially ruled an error but was later changed to a hit.

“We’ve got to get better defensive,” Prado said. “We’ve got to win with some defense, and our defense was awful, and we work on it every day. If they can’t make the play, we have to find guys that will make the play.”

With the score tied 10-10 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Mike Consolmagno hit a leadoff double down the right field line, prompting FAMU to intentionally walk Diaz and Josh LeRoy. Dexter Butler then had a chance to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, but instead he took the walk and the win.

“Coach Prado talked to me after my at-bat prior to that one and told me I needed to be a little more patient, so I tried to take that into my next at-bat,” Butler said. “Once (the count) got to 3-1, I wasn’t going to swing unless it was a perfect pitch, and it wasn’t, so I took (the pitch).”

Aside from the win, Prado was disappointed with every aspect of his team. USF committed four errors, and the Bulls’ pitching staff gave up 14 hits to the Rattlers.”We were awful on defense, we were awful on the mound and we were awful at the plate,” Prado said. “It’s just a total disappointment, and the only thing that’s good about it is we get out of here with a win.”

USF trailed FAMU by as many as three runs on Tuesday but came back and won 9-6, and Prado would’ve liked to have seen a better effort Wednesday against a team that has won just one game in 28 tries.”These guys have to wake up,” Prado said. “This is Division I baseball, and you have to play like you’re a Division I baseball player.”

Addison Maruszak, who committed an error before being replaced by Pina at third base late in the game, admitted USF took the Rattlers lightly.

“We’re taking teams too lightly that we shouldn’t,” Maruszak said. “If we come out against this team playing our game we should win, and we should get our hits, but we just need to stop taking teams lightly like we have been.”