Pitching falters as Canes blow by Bulls

USF couldn’t dig itself out of an early big hole Wednesday night, as the mid-week starting pitching woes continued.

After the Bulls tied it 2-2 in the top of the fourth courtesy of a two-run homer by sophomore shortstop Sam Mende, No. 11 Miami (31-11) responded with five runs in the bottom of the inning en route to a 14-7 home victory.

The Hurricanes roughed up USF senior and Miami native Andrew Salgueiro in the inning. Junior Doug Wagner came in for damage control after Salgueiro gave up seven earned runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Wagner gave up another four runs on four hits in only 1/3 of an inning.

USF (19-23) tried to battle back in the fifth, as the offense reeled off four straight singles to cut the deficit to 7-4. But Miami tacked on five more runs in the bottom of the fifth to blow the game open. The Bulls added three more runs in the eighth and the ninth.

Despite the loss, the offense managed 14 hits to Miami’s 16. The defense, however, committed two errors. Miami shortstop Chris Pelaez went 4-for-5 with four RBI.

USF has now lost three straight games after taking the first two of its weekend series against Villanova.

Juniors Randy Fontanez and Andrew Barbosa pitched in the two wins, while the rest of the rotation has struggled to put together quality outings.

It was the second time this season that USF lost to Miami by a large margin, falling 15-2 on March 2 at George Steinbrenner Field – meaning the Bulls were outscored 29-9 in the two losses. Miami’s latest victory was its 11th straight at home.

USF traveled to Miami without coach Lelo Prado, who was suspended one game for a dispute with a home plate umpire following a dramatic play-at-the-plate that ended Tuesday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast.

Seton Hall (14-22-1, 4-11) is up next for USF, as the team hosts the Pirates for a three-game series this weekend. The Bulls are tied for fourth place in the Big East after being in first just two weeks ago.