USF had relatively little trouble in its first nine Big East games. But it ran into all sorts of problems this weekend.
After claiming the top spot in the Big East last weekend, USF struggled in all three phases of the game and was swept at Rutgers, including a crushing 13-1 loss in the finale Sunday.
“Overall, it was just a bad performance,” said coach Lelo Prado. “It’s probably the most disappointed I’ve been as a coach.”
Rutgers (21-13, 10-2) came into the series just a game behind USF (16-19, 8-4), which had won eight of its first nine Big East games after a slow start to the season.
The Scarlet Knights outhit the Bulls 16-7, as senior starter Matt Quevedo gave up five earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, while walking two and striking out one.
The bullpen surrendered 13 runs in the series, while the defense committed five errors, and the offense was outhit 37-25 and mustered up two runs in the final 18 innings of the series.
“That’s terrible,” Prado said of the lack of offense. “That’s unacceptable.”
On Friday, USF jumped out to a 7-2 lead thanks to a grand slam by sophomore third baseman Daniel Rockhold in the first inning and a two-run homer by junior right fielder Stephen Hunt in the second, but it surrendered six unanswered runs and fell 8-7. The Bulls have lost nine consecutive games decided by one run this season.
“When you’ve got your foot on their throat, you’ve got to put them away,” Prado said Friday.
Things would only get worse over the weekend, as junior pitcher Andrew Barbosa came into Saturday’s meeting looking for his fifth straight win.
“We knew Rutgers was second in conference. They (knew) we were in first,” Barbosa said.
But the offense managed just one run on seven hits and Rutgers piled on six runs.
“I think as players, we try too hard to make big plays instead of going hit-by-hit. We’re putting too much pressure on ourselves,” said Barbosa, who allowed two earned runs in the loss.
The Bulls hope to get back on track as they face Stetson on the road Tuesday before hosting Florida on Wednesday. USF is a combined 0-4 against those teams this season.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Prado said. “Twenty-five guys have to come out with the same effort. As coaches, there’s only so much we can do.”