Sooners come to town

BASEBALL GAME TIMEOklahoma (15-5) at USF (10-6, 2-1)When: Tonight, 7Where: Red McEwen FieldTV/Radio: 1010 AM

It has been 19 years since the South Florida baseball team played Oklahoma, when the Bulls beat the Sooners twice – 7-6 and 5-3 – in 1989. USF leads the all-time series 2-1.

The series continues tonight at Red McEwen Field as the Bulls (10-6, 2-1) play host to No. 25 Oklahoma (15-5) in the first of a two-game stand, in which USF will look to get back on the winning track after losing to Seton Hall on Sunday. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak.

USF coach Lelo Prado said the result of the Oklahoma game could affect the Bulls later in the season as well.

“Wins against these kind of teams can get you into the (NCAA) tournament later in the year,” he said.

To win, the Bulls will need to play sound baseball, which includes good pitching, good hitting and having the ability to end games.

“I’m disappointed (in the loss to Seton Hall) because we didn’t execute late in the game, and that bothers me. Near the end of the game, we had plenty of chances to score runs and we didn’t, which we let them off the hook,” Prado said. “When you got your foot on their throat, you got to finish the job.”

The Bulls finished the job during five of the seven games over spring break, all with comeback victories after the seventh inning. Prado said the solid pitching and hitting need to continue against the Sooners.

“We definitely have to continue to pitch,” Prado said. “We’ve pitched well in that seven games. We played good defense and got some timely hitting.”

Even though the Bulls got some timely hits, they came from a select group. They have five players batting .338 or higher, but average .286 as a team. No other player is batting over .300.

“We’ve now figured out who is going to play. We’ve got to get a couple of guys going, and we’ll be fine,” Prado said.

As a team, the Sooners are hitting .318 while holding opponents to a .256 average. They average 10 runs a game and are holding opponents to under five runs per contest. Five players on the team are batting over .340 with Mike Gosse leading the team with a .389 average.

“They swing the bats, and they’re aggressive. They’re going to steal bases,” Prado said. “It is up to us to stop them.”

The Bulls haven’t defeated a ranked team this year. They lost to No. 21 Oklahoma State twice this year. Oklahoma, however, beat No. 1 UCLA 3-2 on Feb. 23 in extra innings.

“(Oklahoma) is just like Oklahoma State. They’re well coached and got a ton of talent,” Prado said. “I just want our guys to go out and play the way they are capable of playing, and we’ll be fine.”