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USF splits doubleheader

The term “embarrassing” was used by USF baseball’s Sam Mende to describe the first game of Tuesday night’s doubleheader that resulted in an 11-6 loss to North Florida. 

Mende helped make sure the Bulls didn’t duplicate their performance in the second game. He went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI, while junior Teddy Kaufman had 8 strikeouts in five innings and USF won 11-6 at Red McEwen Field.

“It was pretty embarrassing. It felt like no one wanted to be out there (in the first game),” Mende said. “We had a little talk and realized it was our last (home) game for the seniors.”

“We talked about it and came out ready to play in the second game,” said sophomore Ryan Lockwood.

USF quickly jumped on UNF in the second game, scoring six runs while batting around in the first inning. UNF starter Paul Morales didn’t retire a batter before being replaced. The Bulls won behind Kaufman’s strong start and three-hit performances by Mende, Todd Brazeal and Lockwood.

Mende said complacency might have had something to do with the first game’s loss. He also said looking ahead to this weekend’s crucial Big East series at Louisville hurt. With one win in the series, the Bulls will clinch the conference regular season title.

“Honestly, we kind of focused on Louisville and we shouldn’t have done that,” he said. “We should’ve been focused on Notre Dame when we were there (last weekend). Going to Louisville with a win should help, but we need to stay focused each game.”

Mende seemed to be focused at the plate in the second game, driving a first-inning pitch in the left-center gap for a three-run double. Mende added a single and triple later in the game.

The matchup between the Ospreys and the Bulls on May 6 was suspended because of inclement weather. Play resumed in the first game Tuesday night in the sixth inning, with UNF leading USF 7-6.

The Ospreys scored four more runs and held the Bulls scoreless the rest of the game.

USF (32-20, 18-6) lost two of three to the Irish last weekend but still sits in sole possession of first in the Big East. Mende said he hopes the Bulls can clinch the title this weekend.

“Coming in my freshmen year, doing something that hasn’t been done, it’d be pretty fun if we did, I know that,” he said.