Three big innings, three huge wins. In a key series against the UConn Huskies (27-24, 14-10), timely hitting and reliablepitching allowed the Bulls to move into third in the Big East. USF (33-18, 16-8) swept theHuskies with wins of 3-2, 3-0 and 8-3.
Not just a win, but a sweep of UConn, coach Lelo Prado said. Im proud of them, they faced a lot of criticism, people thought they couldnt compete at this level.
With two wins and asecond-place tie under their belt entering the third game of the series, the Bulls brought inMothers Day with style in the final home game of the season. USF took advantage offour Huskies errors in the firsttwo innings of play to scoreall eight of their runs fivein the first and three in thesecond.
Matt Reed got the Sundaystart after usual starterDerrick Stultz was moved up toSaturday to replace a struggling Joey Lovecchio. Reed responded with a strong performance, going seven solid innings, allowing six hits and three runs and earned the win thanks to big-time run support. Senior Andrew Loynaz pitched a one-hit inning in hisfinal home game, and Steven Leasure finished off the game with a shutout ninth.
Its a one-time thing, Prado said in reference to Reeds start. But he did what he had to do, got out and he pitched good
After Alex Mendez and James Ramsay singled to start thebottom of the first, UConn handed the Bulls the advantagewith four errors, resulting in five
runs crossing the plate, givingthe Bulls an early advantage.The Bulls landed three more runs in the bottom of the second RBI singles off the
bats of Daniel Rockhold and Todd Brazeal, along with a sacrifice fly from Kyle Teaf.
We played well, we pitched great, we did enough offensively. It was a good week for us, but next week might be the biggest week probably since Ive been here, Prado said.
Andrew Barbosa and Stultz carried the Bulls to the first two wins of the series. A toughsecond inning separatedBarbosa from a secondconsecutive shutout, whentwo hits and two errors gave UConn an early 2-0 advantage. But the senior bounced back with eight strong innings, allowingfive hits and two runs whilestriking out eight in a 3-2 win.
When we gave him a lead he was really pretty good, Prado said. He kept them off stride.
Stultz had his thirdconsecutive strong outing on Saturday night, allowing just four hits in six shutout innings of work. He was replaced by Austin Adams at the start of the seventh because of blisters in his hands, as a preventative move. Hisoffense had a big fifth inning, much in which three runs crossed the plate, and the Bulls sealed theseries with a 3-0 win.
They have great arms, but you have to compete, Prado said. We hit the ball hard all game. Its a great time to get hot.
After a key sweep, the Bulls, within one game of first place in the Big East, will prepare for their final series of the season, a three-game set against WVU.
Thats where we want to be, said Prado. I have all theconfidence in the world andwere going out in style.