Baseball beats Pitt 12-2 in Big East opener
Good morning from Bright House Field, where there are actual glimpses of blue sky -- just a few -- after an overcast first day and rainy Tuesday night.
Second-seeded USF got an easy 12-2 win against seventh-seeded Pittsburgh in eight innings Wednesday morning, with freshman Sam Mende ending the game an inning early with a three-run home run in the eighth.
Bulls starter Randy Fontanez (7-3), pitching for the first time in 10 days, gave up six hits in the first three innings, but settled down and held Pitt to two hits in the remaining five innings -- oddly, his second eight-inning complete game of the season.
"The first two innings, I was kind of excited, not playing well, but after that I settled down and got it done," Fontanez said. "We need to keep it going and hopefully keep hitting and pitching like we did today and make it to Saturday."
The Bulls (33-23) had dropped five of their last six Big East games, but now have some momentum going into a Thursday morning game against Connecticut. The Huskies, while the No. 6 seed in the tournament, took two of three games from the Bulls this season, giving the Bulls extra incentive to win.
"The last two weeks of the season, it was a struggle. We really didn't have anything," Mende said. "We usually don't do anything good in the mornings, but today, it was nice to come out and make a statement."
The winner of Thursday's game advances to Friday's semifinals, while the loser will play again later Thursday in an elimination game.
"It started out a little shaky, but Randy settled down," coach Lelo Prado said. "I'm happy with the win. Now it's a matter of win and move on. ... Especially after last week, when we didn't do a very good offensively, it was nice to see our bats going."
Prado tweaked his lineup, batting sophomore Junior Carlin at leadoff for the first time, while slumping outfielder Ryan Lockwood, who has batted no lower than third, batted seventh. Carlin singled in his first two at-bats, scoring both time, while Lockwood went 0-for-4, dropping to one hit in his last 16 at-bats.
First baseman Todd Brazeal reached base all five times and scored four runs, and third baseman Jonathan Koscso led the way with three hits, while outfielder Chris Rey drove in three runs.
Junior Shawn Sanford (5-3, 4.81 ERA) gets the start Thursday against Connecticut.
UPDATE: Eighth-seeded Cincinnati is the first team eliminated after losing to St. John's on Wednesday, 12-2. All five games have been decided by at least five runs ...
-- With the NBA lottery done, sites are putting up mock first rounds. Sporting News Today has six Big East players in its first round -- UConn's Hasheem Thabeet fourth, Louisville's Earl Clark (12th) and Terrence Williams (14th), Syracuse's Jonny Flynn (19th) and Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair (20) and Sam Young (29).
SI.com's Ian Thomsen has the same six, but changes the order up -- Thabeet 6th, Blair 12th, Flynn 14th, Clark 16th, Young 20th and Williams 27th.