Pitching proved to be the key to victory for the USF baseball team yet again Wednesday as the Bulls shutout No. 1 seed St. John’s 2-0 and continued their march toward the Big East Conference championship game.
Third baseman Addison Maruszak
Bulls’ starter Chris Delaney pitched 6 1/3 innings against the Red Storm, allowing four hits and no runs while striking out three. Freshman Shawn Sanford relieved Delaney in the seventh inning and secured the Bulls’ victory, allowing one hit, no runs and recording four strikeouts.
Coach Lelo Prado praised the play of his pitchers after the win and left no doubt about how the Bulls have reached this point.
“We got a great pitching performance from (Chris) Delaney, and (Shawn) Sanford did a great job (when he came in) in the seventh,” Prado said. “The reason we’re winning is our pitchers have been outstanding.”
USF had a solid night at the plate as well, tallying two runs on six hits in the contest. Sophomore Addison Maruszak’s RBI double in the first inning drove in junior Walter Diaz and put the Bulls on the board early. After Diaz’s run, the game was scoreless until the eighth inning when sophomore Mike Consolmagno scored on a RBI single by junior Dexter Butler, giving the Bulls a 2-0 lead.
After the game, pitcher Chris Delaney emphasized the importance of technically sound offensive play from the Bulls, especially in low scoring games.
“We know we’re not going to be able to knock the crap out of the ball every game,” Delaney said. “So being able to move runners over and having quality base running is the key to our game on the offensive side.”
Thanks to another solid pitching performance, the Bulls opened the conference tournament with a 2-1 victory over No. 4 seed Pittsburgh Tuesday.
Senior Danny Otero pitched his fifth complete game of the season allowing only three hits and one run while striking out four in the win. Errors also played a large role in the Bulls’ victory with Pittsburgh tallying six while USF finished with zero. “Otero did a great job,” Coach Lelo Prado said after Tuesday’s win. “The errors really cost them and we executed when we had to, but Otero is really the reason we’re moving on in the winner’s bracket.”
USF struggled offensively against the Panthers. Only three Bulls recorded hits in the contest, giving them a team total of four. Sophomore Addison Maruszak was the only player to tally a multi-hit game for the Bulls, going 2-for-4 in the win.
After Tuesday’s game, Prado voiced his disappointment with the team’s offensive play but acknowledged that in the post-season, winning is all that matters.”Our offense did not show up today,” Prado said. “But we did enough to win, and at this point in the season that’s all you have to do.”
Both Pittsburgh and No. 7 seed Notre Dame were eliminated from the double-elimination tournament Wednesday. The Panthers lost to No. 8 seed Connecticut 5-2 while the Fighting Irish fell 3-2 to No. 6 seed Villanova. Notre Dame’s elimination means it will be the first time in five seasons that the Fighting Irish will not be crowned Big East champions.
The Bulls were rewarded for their first and second round victories with a day off. Today will feature a match-up between No. 2 Rutgers and No. 6 Villanova at 4 p.m. and a re-match of Day One’s game between St. John’s and Connecticut at 7 p.m. . USF will return to the field Friday to face the winner of today’s game between St. John’s and Connecticut.