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USF’s offense sputters in tournament finale

USF coach Lelo Prado left the second weekend of the season in similar fashion as the first – very disappointed.

After getting swept by Florida in Gainesville last weekend, USF (1-5) dropped two of three in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge, including a 4-2 loss to Michigan on Sunday.

“We were just awful at the plate (Sunday),” Prado said. “(It) was the only game where I was really disappointed. Our offense has been atrocious. If we play like we did (Sunday), we’ll lose to anybody.”

The Bulls, picked to finish second in the Big East this year, mustered only three hits but got a strong start from junior Andrew Barbosa, who allowed two earned runs and struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings. USF is hitting .249 as a team.

“We’re a team that believes we’re going to be good. It’s only a matter of time until everything clicks,” said first baseman Todd Brazeal on Saturday after the Bulls notched their first win of the season.

USF blew out Illinois 12-3 to give Prado his 100th victory at the school. The Bulls put together their only strong performance of the weekend on offense and were solid on the mound. Brazeal went 2-for-4 with four RBI and one run.

“As a team, we were let down a lot from last weekend. We all practiced with a chip on our shoulder this week,” Brazeal said of USF bouncing back. “We’re an unbelievable team and we all know it.”

Freshman pitcher Ray Delphey once again gave USF a quality performance in the win, giving up only two earned runs in six innings with three walks and six strikeouts.

“My breaking ball wasn’t as sharp as it was against Florida, but I was able to work through it,” Delphey said.

He said his confidence has grown with each performance.

“I still get nervous every once in a while, but it gets easier with each pitch.”

But USF ace Randy Fontanez still hasn’t gotten his first win of the year. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs and striking out eight in a loss to Ohio State. Buckeyes ace Alex Wimmers, last week’s Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, did not allow an earned run in eight innings, as the Bulls fell 4-2.