USF eliminated from Big East tourney

USF senior Mike Consolmagno stood outside the USF locker room, fighting back tears while talking to reporters after the Bulls were eliminated by Connecticut in the semifinals of the Big East tournament Saturday at Bright house Fields in Clearwater, losing 10-8 after nearly overcoming a seven run deficit.

Along with three others, it was Consolmagno’s last game as a Bull.

“I’ve been here five years and it’s been a great time,” Consolmagno said.  “I love all my teammates.  I love USF.  It’s been great.  It hurts a lot.”

Despite their 18-9 regular season conference record, it was likely USF’s last game of the year due to out-of-conference play and RPI.  Head coach Lelo Prado isn’t concerned about that right now, though.

“I don’t deal with that,” he said.  “I’m sure our name will be on the board and it depends on what happens in all these tournaments.  It’s up to the committee.”

The Bulls haven’t won a game this year against a team with a top 50 RPI.

USF had an opportunity to do some damage early Saturday, loading the bases in the first with no outs.  The Bulls managed just one run, however.

With the score tied 1-1, the Huskies put up two in the second inning and five in the third.  They hit four homers in the game.

“We couldn’t stop them early and that killed us,” Prado said.  “We needed innings out of guys and we didn’t get it.  The guys battled hard the whole time.  We had a chance to win it there in the ninth, so it’s a tough loss but you got to give them credit.  They put some runs on the board.”

USF used five pitchers, with junior Matt Quevedo taking the loss in a starting role.

Consolmagno, along with fellow seniors Trey Manz, Chris Rey and Brandon Smith all  played their last game in a USF uniform.

 “I talked to (Consolmagno) early in the year and he wasn’t going to play,” Prado said.  “He took it like a man and for him to play like that in the end was nice to see.”

Consolmagno went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.  Freshmen Sam Mende went 4-for-4 and went 8-for-11 in the tournament.

Consolmagno hoped to reverse the fate of two years ago, where the Bulls needed just one win in two games against the Huskies to go to the championship game in the Big East tournament.  However, UConn got the best of USF both times.

“They beat us twice two years ago and knocked us out so I thought we had a chance here for some revenge,” he said.  “You just got to roll with the punches.”