Another gem has Bulls in Big East semis
Strong senior pitching for the second night in a row has USF in strong position in the Big East championships, advancing to Friday's semifinal action after Chris Delaney and Shaun Sanford combined for a three-hitter in a 2-0 win against top-seeded St. John's.
Not only do the fifth-seeded Bulls (34-24) get today off, but they need win only one of two games Friday to make it to Saturday's championship game. Delaney's outing came one day after starter Danny Otero threw a three-hitter in a 2-1 win against Pittsburgh. The two tournament wins greatly help the Bulls' chances of landing an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Delaney took a one-hitter into the seventh inning but got into trouble there, giving up a double and hitting a batter. Sanford got the job done in relief -- after inheriting runners at first and third with one out, he got a pop foul and strikeout to preserve the 1-0 lead. Sanford gave up one hit in 2.2 scoreless innings of relief, striking out four.
USF's first run came from its first batter of the game, as Walter Diaz got on with a bunt single, advanced on a walk to Dexter Butler and scored on a two-out double by Addison Maruszak. Butler was thrown out trying to score from first.
The Bulls haven't won more than one game in a conference tournament since in Conference USA in 2002, the last time USF played in the NCAA Tournament. The last time the Bulls opened a conference tournament with two wins, they were in the Metro, winning the league championship under Eddie Cardieri in their last year in the conference in 1995.
USF will play Friday at 1 against the winner of Thursday's game between St. John's and eighth-seeded Connecticut. That team would have to beat USF twice Friday to keep the Bulls out of Saturday's championship game.