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USF streak snapped, splits weekend series at home


Columbia (2-2) handed USF (9-2) its first loss Friday, breaking the team’s 7-0 start, the best start the Bulls have had since 1982 under Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.

Friday’s pitchers’ duel between USF’s Jimmy Herget and Columbia’s David Speer began with an RBI single in the first and ended with a 1-0 victory for the Lions.

“I’m disappointed,” USF coach Lelo Prado said. “(Speer’s) a good pitcher, but like I told them, we’re going to see a lot of good Friday night guys, and we better do a better job offensively.”

The Bulls had two runners in scoring position with no outs in the fourth, but weren’t able to make anything of it.

Prado was dissatisfied with the Bulls’ offense during the first two games of the series, as the Bulls then lost 6-4 in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We played probably the worst game I’ve ever seen my team play,” Prado said. “It was awful baserunning. Everything we worked on in practice, we did bad.”

The game was tied at four going into the ninth, but the Lions scored two runs off of relief pitcher Michael Farley (1-1), who got the loss.

Junior pitcher Casey Mulholland started Game 1 for the Bulls, and showed improvement from his first two starts. In the first inning, he retired the side on three strikeouts and went on to punch out another three in his five innings pitched.

Prado said his starters pitched well for the doubleheader. Freshman Brandon Lawson (2-0) earned the win in Game 2, allowing one run and two hits in seven innings.

“(Lawson’s) getting better every outing,” Prado said. “We needed that out of our pitcher.”

Relief pitchers Tommy Peterson and Cody Hernandez allowed two runs apiece, but an eight-run fourth inning positioned the Bulls for a 13-5 victory.

Thirteen Bulls came to the plate in the explosive inning, which began when Daniel Portales drew a walk and advanced to second on a throwing error. Luke Maglich drove him in with a single up the middle. Three batters later, Vincent Leto doubled down the right field line, scoring Maglich and Buddy Putnam, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Five more runs scored in the inning.

A big inning helped the Bulls win Game 2 of the doubleheader, and in Sunday’s matchup, the Bulls capitalized on Columbia’s poor pitching to win 7-2.

The Bulls scored five points from runners who reached base via walk or hit-by-pitch.

Both starting pitchers, Kevin Roy for Columbia and Joe Adel for USF, lasted just three innings. The Bulls relied on their bullpen to get the win, as Lawrence Pardo pitched 3 2/3 innings of relief, allowing two hits and fanning five.

“When there’s good pitching, it shuts down a lot of good hitting, and (Pardo) did a hell of a job for us,” Prado said. “We needed some innings out of somebody. He gave it to us.”

The Bulls got ahead 4-2 in the fourth and maintained their lead, scoring another run in the sixth and two more insurance runs in the eighth.

USF looks to start another winning streak, as they are scheduled to play a two game series against No. 2 Florida State beginning Tuesday at 7 p.m.