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Bulls lose two in opening weekend

This isn’t what USF baseball coach Lelo Prado envisioned for his team’s first weekend of the season.

After losing to Michigan on a walk-off hit Friday, USF bounced back with a win Saturday against Purdue. But the Bulls couldn’t keep the momentum going Sunday as they fell 9-7 to Indiana, finishing 1-2 at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.

“1-2 is not acceptable,” Prado said. “We had opportunities, we had chances, we had the right guys at the plate in certain situations.”

On Sunday, the Bulls fell behind 5-0 on a five-run fourth inning by the Hoosiers, highlighted by Alex Dickerson’s two-run homer off Bulls’ junior pitcher Shawn Sanford. Sanford struck out eight batters in five innings but gave up five runs on eight hits.

The Bulls’ offense was plagued by early missed opportunities.

With runners on first and third and no outs in the third inning, the Bulls couldn’t capitalize as junior Peter Brotons and senior leadoff man Mike Consolmagno struck out.

“We had their pitcher on the ropes there,” Prado said. “You’re not going to win too many games if you can’t put at least one run on the board in that situation.”

USF’s hitting improved late in the game, but the five-run deficit proved too much to overcome.

“It’s a tough spot to be in, down four or five runs,” Prado said. “We don’t have the club to have the three-run homer, so it takes a little longer for us to get those runs back.”

Sophomore Ryan Lockwood’s 32-game hit streak came to an end after he drew a walk in the eighth inning. Lockwood finished 0-4 with two strikeouts. Dating back to March 9 of last season, Lockwood’s was the longest hit streak in USF history.

The Bulls had a 14-hit performance and held off a late Purdue surge Friday to escape with a 7-5 victory. Five USF players had multi-hit games, and sophomore Derrick Stultz threw six strong innings, giving up only one earned run on five hits.

“We did a lot of good things and bad things this weekend pitching-wise, fielding-wise and hitting-wise,” said pitching coach Lazer Collazo. “We made some mistakes in all aspects so we have to pick it up.”

The Bulls led 5-2 over defending Big Ten champion Michigan on Friday, but the Wolverines rallied late — scoring four runs in the last two innings — to pull out the victory.

“They’re a solid team, but we have to finish those games,” Prado said. “We played good, but you’ve got to play nine solid innings. I guess that’s the growing pains.”

Despite the loss, there were some bright spots for USF.

Consolmagno followed his three-hit game Saturday with a 4-5 effort Sunday.

“My mind-set is much more relaxed this year,” Consolmagno said. “I’m a senior trying to lead the team and I’m just trying to relax up there and put some good swings on the ball.”

The Big Ten finished with a 16-8 record over the Big East this weekend. Michigan and Ohio State were the only teams to finish with perfect 3-0 records.

Notre Dame (2-1) and St. John’s (2-1) finished with the top weekend records in the Big East.