Bulls to meet Miami tonight in Florida Four

Having been swept by the No. 1 Gators, the USF baseball team will have a redeeming chance to topple an in-state foe tonight.

George M. Steinbrenner Field will host the second annual Florida Four Series, where the Bulls (1-5) will try to upset No. 24 Miami. The Hurricanes (4-3) are coming off a 9-8 exhibition-game victory over the Florida Marlins on Sunday.

At last year’s event, the Hurricanes overwhelmed the Bulls in a dominant 15-2 victory. By the time USF managed to score a run in the bottom of the seventh inning, it was already behind by 12 with little hope of coming back.

Coach Lelo Prado said he will enjoy the opportunity to test his squad against Florida’s premier programs at the event.

“I love (the Florida Four),” he said. “It’s what college baseball should be about.”

For USF to beat Miami, it will have to put the emotions of last weekend aside.

The Bulls were beaten by Elon in extra innings Friday night in the stadium opener before getting a game-winning home run from first baseman Todd Brazeal in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday. The Phoenix again needed extra innings to beat USF Sunday in a marathon 16-inning game that tied the USF record for longest game ever played.

“Our guys will be ready to go,” Prado said after Sunday’s loss. “We’ll see what happens, but we’ve gotta keep fighting, keep working.”

Prado is likely to give left-hander Matt Reed the start against the Hurricanes. After using eight relief pitchers in USF’s 16-inning loss to Elon on Sunday, Prado’s bullpen depth is somewhat depleted.

If given the ball, Reed, a junior, will make his eighth start as a Bull. Last season, Reed posted a record of 1-0 with a 6.91 ERA in just 14.1 innings pitched.

The first pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. Florida (7-0) will meet No. 5 Florida State (7-0) in the second part of the doubleheader, tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. That game will start approximately half an hour after the first game ends.

The Seminoles won last year’s Florida Four match-up 10-5. Both teams qualified for last year’s College World Series, with Florida State displacing the Gators.

The Bulls will return to their on-campus home Friday night to begin a three-game set against Florida A&M.