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Bulls show weaknesses against Cowboys

No. 21 Oklahoma St. 14, USF 3

The South Florida baseball team (3-3) ended its weekend home stand on a low note, losing to No. 21 Oklahoma State (7-1) 14-3 on Sunday after defeating Northwestern (3-3) 9-7 on Saturday. The Bulls lost to Oklahoma State 7-2 on Thursday, and the series exposed some aspects of the game where USF needs work.

The Bulls gave up 12 runs in the fourth and fifth innings, using four pitchers in the fourth inning alone. Freshman pitcher Randy Fontanez started the game and seemed to be in control, striking out three Cowboy hitters in the second inning. He struck out six in 3.2 innings of work with no earned runs allowed. However, walks and errors caught up to the Bulls.

“Me and the team kind of let go for a little bit,” Fontanez said. “(Early), everything was going well. I kept hitting the spots.”

Fontanez walked junior infielder Tyrone Hambly, and some errors prolonged the inning. Senior third basemen Charles Cleveland missed a pop up and junior outfielder Brian Hobbs misplayed a fly ball. The Cowboys took advantage, scoring seven runs in the inning.

“We didn’t make the plays,” USF coach Lelo Prado said. “We got a pop up we missed, and we misplaced a fly ball. When you misplay those fly balls against great teams, you’re going to lose most of the time.”

The Cowboys offense continued to excel in the fifth, scoring five runs.

USF began Sunday’s game by scoring three runs in the first three innings but failed to sustain the production, posting zeroes on the rest of the scoreboard. The two runs in Thursday’s game both came in the seventh inning.

“That’s not good,” Prado said. “We got to be better at batting. We had two big hits today – Smitty (junior first basemen Brandon Smith) and Hobbs. Besides that, we did absolutely nothing.”

The Smith home run came after junior outfielder Chris Rey singled to left field, putting the Bulls up 2-0. His home run went over the right-field wall – the first right-field home run at Red McEwen Field this year – and bounced off the scoreboard. The wind was blowing out toward right field.

“It’s bittersweet just for the fact that we got embarrassed, but I wish it would’ve meant something,” Smith said.

The Hobbs home run came in the third inning and also went over the right-field wall.

The Bulls left a total of 10 men on base throughout the game, an area in which Prado said the team needs improvement.

“The difference between Oklahoma State and us – when they get guys in scoring position, they drive them in – that’s what great teams do, and until we learn how to do that, we’re going to struggle,” Prado said.

The Bulls’ offense produced during a few innings against Northwestern on Saturday.

They scored nine runs in three different innings, including a two-run single to right field by freshman outfielder Ryan Lockwood in the eighth inning to take the lead 9-7. The Bulls went on to win 9-8.

“I took an?approach similar to the one Chris Rey took with the bases loaded in the ninth inning (against Indiana State) last weekend,” Lockwood said. “I was looking for something to pull and I got it. It wasn’t a great hit, but it drove the runs in and that is all that counts.”