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Bulls meet Pittsburgh in crucial home series

With 51 games in the books this season, the postseason fate of the USF baseball team comes down to the final three outings of the regular season.

Pittsburgh visits for the final series of the regular season, beginning tonight at 7, with the Bulls on the verge of missing the Big East tournament, which begins Wednesday at Bright House Field in Clearwater.

Having lost their last six Big East games, the Bulls slid into a tie with Seton Hall for eighth place in the standings. Only eight teams qualify for the conference tournament. Because USF took two of three games against the Pirates in April, the Bulls would receive the bid if the teams remain tied.

Simply put, USF (23-28, 11-13) will have to do as well or better against Pittsburgh (31-19, 15-9) than Seton Hall (26-23, 11-13) does against Georgetown (23-30, 5-19) to reach Clearwater.

“If I have to say anything (about this weekend), then we’ve got the wrong guys in that dugout,” coach Lelo Prado said. “If you can’t get excited about this weekend, then you shouldn’t be playing baseball.”

Infielder Jonathan Koscso leads the way offensively for the Bulls, both as leadoff hitter and with a .332 average, the only player in the lineup who’s batting above .300.

Koscso is one of nine seniors on the team that will be honored on Senior Day on Saturday. Koscso and his classmates have qualified for the Big East tournament every year so far, including a run to the 2009 championship, which USF lost 10-8 to Connecticut.

Pittsburgh, which sits third in the conference, provides a stern test for USF. The Panthers were consistent in Big East play until getting swept on the road by St. John’s two weekends ago. USF swept the Red Storm at home earlier this month.

Seton Hall’s road to Clearwater appears easier. The Pirates host last-place Georgetown for a three-game series this week. The Hoyas have won just five conference games this season, three of which came against second-to-last place Villanova.

Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Senior Day festivities begin at 12:30 p.m., with the first pitch set for 1 p.m.