USF swept by Notre Dame, on Big East tournament bubble

For the first time since 2006, the USF baseball team was swept for two consecutive weekends, extending its season-long losing streak to seven games.

The Bulls (22-28, 11-13) were in South Bend, Ind., on Friday and Saturday for a three-game set against Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish set the tone for the weekend early, winning 8-0 in the series opener Friday night. Notre Dame (21-24, 12-11) won both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, winning game one 10-5 before closing out the sweep with a 6-3 win in game two.

Senior pitcher Randy Fontanez left the game due to illness after just two innings of work in the series opener Friday night with the Fighting Irish already up 2-0, meaning Fontanez was already on the hook for his fifth loss of the season.

Fontanez’s replacement, Zach Pietrzyk, pitched 5.1 outstanding innings of relief to keep the game close before Notre Dame posted six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the game out of reach. Pietrzyk retired the first 15 batters he faced.

USF was leading Notre Dame in the first game Saturday, before another big inning from the Fighting Irish put the game out of reach. Trailing 5-4 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, Notre Dame scored five runs to take the opening game of the doubleheader.

Three hits from freshman right fielder James Ramsay helped the Bulls to an early lead in game two before runs in four consecutive innings finished the sweep for Notre Dame.

The Bulls are now tied for eighth in the Big East standings with Seton Hall, but because USF beat Seton Hall twice earlier this season, USF owns the tiebreaker. Only the top eight teams in the conference will qualify for the Big East Championship tournament, which begins May 25 in Clearwater.

USF gets a break from the Big East by hosting North Florida Tuesday night before beginning a crucial conference series against Pittsburgh at the USF Baseball Stadium Thursday.