Big East: Bulls fall 3-2 in 9th to Red Storm
CLEARWATER -- A long season for USF baseball continued Wednesday night, as the Bulls rallied to tie St. John's in the ninth but wasted a bases-loaded, one-out situation, only to see the Red Storm win 3-2 in the same scenario in the bottom of the ninth.
"You've got to swing the bats," coach Lelo Prado said after the loss in the opening round of the Big East tournament at Bright House Field. "Give their pitchers credit, but you had them on the ropes. ... We were dead from the first inning on. Offensively, we couldn't get nothing going. Their pitcher had a lot to do with it, but if that's the way we're going to swing the bats, it's not good."
A pitcher's duel between USF's Randy Fontanez (5-7) and St. John's starter Kyle Hansen was a 1-1 stalemate until the eighth, when the Red Storm took the lead. USF answered on Todd Brazeal's RBI single in the ninth, but the rally ended when freshman Chad Taylor lined into a double play.
Then the bottom of the ninth: A walk by Fontanez, who then fielded a comebacker and tried to get the lead runner, only to throw the ball into centerfield. With closer Kevin Quackenbush in and runners at first and second with one out, Paul Karmas hit a high chopper to third base, where Jonathan Koscso missed the lead runner with a high tag. With the bases loaded, Sean O'Hare won it for St. John's, ripping a shot down the left-field line.
"You're not going to win many tournaments with three hits, four hits," said Prado, who lost a Big East tournament opener for the first time in his four seasons at USF.
Fifth-seeded USF (25-31) now faces eighth-seeded West Virginia on Thursday at 5 p.m. in an elimination game. St. John's (37-18) plays top-seeded Louisville at 8 p.m. for a spot in Saturday's semifinals. Lefty Andrew Barbosa, a second-team All-Big East selection, will start for USF against the Mountaineers.
"A loss is a loss, but they're all hard, these especially," said Fontanez, who struck out eight batters. "We've got to put it behind us. Tomorrow, it's a new day, so hopefully we come out with a win and keep going."
USF opened the scoring in the first, when Koscso was hit by a pitch and scored on Stephen Hunt's double for a 1-0 lead. The Bulls would muster just one hit in the next five innings, and Louisville tied the game in the sixth on Joe Panik's RBI single after a throwing error by Koscso.