Though it didnt have the ideal ending to its regular season, the USF baseball team (34-20, 17-10) will head to the postseason with confidence in its ability to stay in a game.
The Bulls were unable to take advantage of a chance to win a Big East title, dropping 6-3 and 10-8 decisions Thursday and Friday against the Mountaineers (23-32, 9-18). But they did close out the series with a 5-4 win in extra innings.
After coming up short in the first two games of the series, the Bulls went into Saturdays finale determined to end the regular season on a high note. It seemed they would do just that when they jumped to a 4-0 lead after four innings. Anthony Diaz, Blake Sydeski and James Ramsay all delivered with two-out RBI singles to take the lead.
The Mountaineers fought back with a huge fifth inning, turning a 4-1 deficit into a tied game. USF senior Matt Reed, who got the start, was charged with all four runs, but managed to go seven innings, allowing seven hits.
With both teams deadlocked after nine innings, the game headed to extras, where neither team scored for two more innings. In the 12th, with runners on the corners and one out, freshman Buddy Putnam brought across the decisive run on an RBI groundout.
The win came after back-to-back nights of heartbreaking losses, when USFs rallies fell just short. On Thursday night, after West Virginia jumped to a 6-1 lead, the Bulls used a two-run eighth to cut the deficit to just three, but were unable to threaten in the ninth.
Friday, the Bulls found themselves down five runs once again, facing an 8-3 hole just three innings in. They responded with a big two-out rally in the fourth, scoring five runs to tie it, but were unable to match the final two West Virginia runs of the game in the 10-8 loss, dropping the Bulls to fourth place.
We didnt win the regular season, but we have a chance in the conference tournament to do something with our program, coach Lelo Prado said. It will all start out on the mound on Wednesday night.
The Big East Tournament will be held at Bright House Field in Clearwater. The tournament will start with a ceremony Tuesday evening that will include Big East awards and a home run derby. First baseman Jimmy Falla will represent the Bulls in the derby.