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USF drops two to Hoyas

Georgetown 8, USF 7

Heads were down in the USF dugout after the Bulls lost two of three games at home to the Georgetown Hoyas over the weekend. The two losses were the difference between a solid spot atop the Big East Conference and hanging on to the last spot in the Big East tournament.

The Bulls are 14-14 and 4-5 in the Big East. Only eight of the 14 teams in the conference qualify for the Big East tournament, and at the halfway mark of the season, USF is in the No. 8 spot.

After splitting the first two games against the Hoyas, both players and coaches believed winning Sunday’s game was imperative in order to contend in the Big East.

“It (was) critical to win on Sunday. We can’t afford to fall below .500. Not in the Big East,” said Addison Maruszak, who went 2-for-4 with two singles and a run scored in Sunday’s loss.

“Every game is a must win, but Sunday’s game is one that we cannot afford to lose,” assistant coach Lazer Collazo said after Saturday’s loss.

Collazo filled in for coach Lelo Prado in Saturday and Sunday’s games after Prado came down with the flu.

As the Bulls were suffering from their dissapointment, Georgetown players were jumping up and down and high-fiving each other after putting themselves back into contention with a 10-13 overall record and 3-6 in the conference – just one game behind USF.

“I’m very pleased coming down here, winning two games on the road. The offense had been struggling lately,” Georgetown coach Pete Wilk said.

Derrick Stultz – a USF freshman pitcher from Tampa’s Wharton High School – stepped up for the Bulls on Sunday, providing six strong innings, but the bullpen let a 7-1 South Florida lead in the seventh inning become an 8-7 Georgetown win after the Hoyas scored two runs in the seventh and five in the eighth.

With the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning, USF closer Shawn Sanford came in to attempt a six-out save holding a 7-3 lead.

Sanford, however, couldn’t find the strike zone. Fans were stunned and the stadium was silent as Sanford walked three batters and allowed five runs, three of which were earned.

The Bulls had a chance to tie in the bottom of the ninth with a runner at third and two outs, but catcher Corey Johnson flied out to Georgetown’s left fielder Matt Harrigan to end the game.

“There are a lot of games left to be played in the Big East, so we can definitely get on a roll and climb up the standings,” USF right fielder Mike Consolmagno said. “We have to keep what happened this weekend in the back of our minds and never let it happen again.”

During game two of the series, USF seemed to be headed toward its second win in a row as it scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to get what seemed to be a comfortable 3-0 lead.

Then came the seventh inning: Matt Quevedo, who had thrown 70 pitches in six innings of work while striking out five, looked strong and retired the first batter in the seventh, but he proceeded to walk three straight batters and left the game after six 1/3 innings.

The Hoyas took advantage of David Torcise and two other USF relievers to score six consecutive runs in the inning to deliver a blow the Bulls couldn’t recover from.

“We didn’t come out ready to play during that inning,” Maruszak said. “We had neither pitching nor defense, and by the time we tried to recover from it, it was too late.”

On Friday, USF freshman Randy Fontanez pitched eight stellar innings in a 2-1 win for the Bulls. Sanford came into the game in the ninth inning with runners on second and third and one out as he struck out the last two batters to earn the save.