The USF baseball team opened Big East play this weekend with a bang, showing consistent pitching and an offensive prowess that hadnt been present in non-conference play.
Three strong starting pitching performances carried the Bulls to a 3-0 start in conference play, with a weekend series sweep against Georgetown. Though it was against a team picked to finish last in the Big East, coach Lelo Prado said the Bulls are proud of starting their conference schedule with a sweep.
We came into the weekend wanting to start 3-0 in the Big East and we did that, he said. But we cant be satisfied, we have to start preparing for Notre Dame. We have a couple of days of practice and FAMU on Wednesday night.
Ace pitcher Andrew Barbosa took the mound Friday night and was stellar from start to finish in, arguably, his best start of the season as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. The senior southpaw struck out 13 Hoyas in a six-inning outing in which the only hit he allowed was a bunt single in the second inning from Corbin Blakey.
I havent seen him that sharp, Prado said. I thought he was really good. His breaking ball was good for strikes. He got ahead and just dominated a good-hitting ball club.
Relievers Adrian Puig and Nick Gonzalez combined to finish off the three-hit shutout, fueling USF to a 6-0 win to start the series.
Joey Lovecchio started for USF on Saturday evening and worked 7.2 innings, allowing five hits and just one run. The Bulls offense put up six runs once again, aided by home runs from Todd Brazeal and Alex Mendez. James Ramsay chipped in with two RBIs of his own, and the Bulls sealed a series victory with a 6-1 win.
Slow-throwing lefty Matt Reed got the start in the finale Sunday, with USF searching for a series sweep for the first time since its three-game sweep of Savannah State on March 3 and 4. Reed went six innings, allowing five hits and two runs in a back-and-forth start to the game.
Tied at 2-2, the Bulls blew the game open with two runs each in the sixth and seventh innings, thanks to RBI singles from Luis Llerena and Andrew Longley. Daniel Rockholds RBI double in the eighth finished the scoring in the 7-2 victory.
We knew we needed good pitching with (Austin) Adams hurt and the guys stepped up, Prado said. We had good starting pitching, good relief pitching and good hitting.
USF hosts a single non-conference game against Florida A&M at 5 p.m. Wednesday before returning to Big East play against Notre Dame on Friday.