Bench providing lift for USF

Though USF (19-21) has battled numerous injuries to starters this season, it has seen substantial contributions from backups.

“They’ve done a nice job.  We’ve had some injuries and they’ve filled in nicely,” said coach Lelo Prado. “They’ve done what we’ve asked of them.”

Redshirt sophomore second baseman Luis Llerena had a productive weekend after being inserted into the lineup, going 5-for-12 with two runs scored

Outfielder Alex Mendez, a redshirt freshman who’s been  has been consistent batting both leadoff and in the eighth spot. He was 4-for-6 in the Villanova series last weekend with four RBI and two runs scored and has produced several sacrifice bunts this season in place of junior center fielder Ryan Lockwood, who’s still out with a calf injury.

“Coach Prado’s always big on when you get an opportunity you have to make the best out of it,” Mendez said. “He’s given us the opportunity, and I’m just trying to do whatever I can do to get in the lineup every day.”

Llerena, Mendez and freshman second baseman/outfielder Chad Taylor will likely see more playing time this week as USF takes on Florida Gulf Coast (26-13) tonight at 7 at Red McEwen Field.

“I’m just trying to do my job, trying to play small ball when I’m asked to,” Llerena said. “If I need to get a bunt down, I’ll do it. I just try to stay aggressive out there and help the team out.”

The Bulls are still without freshman pitcher Ray Delphey, who has a shoulder injury while outfielder Junior Carlin is playing with a strained groin. Even with the lingering injury, Carlin was able to hit his first career home run for USF on Sunday.

“I appreciate that I’m playing this game, and I give it everything I have,” Carlin said.

Starting for the Bulls will be sophomore Matt Reed (1-0), who allowed only one run on two hits during six innings in his last outing against Stetson.

Florida Gulf Coast is batting .333 as a team and is 13-7 on the road this season.