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Bullpen can’t finish out ninth, USF falters at UF

The Bulls’ midweek woes continue.                                                                                     

Florida’s Mike Mooney hit a 10th inning walk-off single, and the Bulls lost 5-4 to Florida after blowing a 4-2 ninth-inning lead in Gainesville on Wednesday night.

“We have to win (midweek) games, too,” said USF coach Lelo Prado. “It’s great to win on weekends but we also have to win in the middle of the week. If we keep letting these games go, we’ll have to win the Big East.”

Wednesday’s game was the Bulls’ fourth straight midweek loss to a non-conference opponent. USF was swept by FIU last week and lost to Jacksonville on April 7.

After USF sophomore Jonathan Koscso hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth to give the Bulls a two-run cushion, the Gators rallied.

USF junior Joe Cole threw a wild pitch, allowing UF’s Clayton Pisani to score and cut the lead to 4-3. Junior Matt Quevedo, who relieved Cole, gave up a sacrifice fly, tying the game 4-4.

After USF failed to score in the top of the 10th, Mooney hit a game-winning single into left field after Quevedo loaded the bases.

“(The bullpen) didn’t do its job,” Prado said. “When you have a two-run lead in the ninth, you have to win games.”

USF junior Teddy Kaufman was effective, giving up just two runs on four hits in six innings.

The Bulls led most of the way, taking a 2-1 lead after three innings and a 3-2 lead after five.

Bulls assistant coach Bryant Ward said USF missed some early opportunities.

“Yeah, you can point to the ninth, but the first inning is equally as important,” he said. “There were some things we could’ve done in the early innings that wouldn’t have made the ninth inning a factor. At the end of the day, we just didn’t do enough to win.”

Sophomore Ryan Lockwood singled in the first to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 81 games.

USF (24-15, 12-3) plays West Virginia this weekend, with first place in the Big East on the line.

“Hopefully, we’ll be ready for this weekend,” Prado said. “If they’re not ready for West Virginia, they need to turn in their gear on Monday. You’re playing for first place. If you’re not ready, give it up.”