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USF plays Yankees on Friday

The South Florida baseball team will take the field Friday against an opponent it has never seen – in a game that counts for nothing but pride.

The Bulls face off against the New York Yankees at Legends Field.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for every young man on our team,” said USF coach Lelo Prado on “They’ll get an opportunity to play against the New York Yankees and they are going to have that the rest of their lives. That is going to be a great experience for the team and a great showcase for our University.”

USF pitcher Daniel Thomas, shortstop Addison Maruszak and designated hitter Brian Hobbs will face the likes of Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and pitcher Joba Chamberlain.

The Bulls and Yankees have ties going both ways, as former Yankee Tino Martinez is now in his second season as assistant coach at USF, while Dave Eiland, who pitched for the Bulls in 1986 and 1987, is now the Yankees’ pitching coach.

USF will leave Red McEwen Field for a day to play at Legends Field, soon to be renamed George Steinbrenner Field.

The Bulls have never played at Legends Field.

“It is going to be special to play at Legends Field,” Prado said. “We have played in a lot of minor league parks, but it is not like playing against the New York Yankees. It is going to be a fun day for USF baseball.”

USF averaged only 4.7 runs a game during last weekend’s series against Indiana State, but Maruszak, one of the team’s offensive leaders, remains optimistic.

“We are making a lot of adjustments and trying to learn how to fight off good pitches and lay off the bad ones. We struck out 24 times against Indiana State, and we want to correct that,” he said.

Maruszak also said that other aspects are important for a productive offense.

“We had a lot of hits last weekend – consistently being in double digits – but we didn’t have timely hits,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time until that happens. We have a fast top of the order, and it needs to get on base by putting the ball on the ground and making the defense have to make a play.”

After seeing the stands packed for each of the first three games, both players and coaches have expressed how important fan support has been and will continue to be for the team. Tickets made available to students, faculty and staff earlier this week for Friday’s game have already sold out.

“I hope students come see us this weekend,” Prado said. “We need their support.”