Collapse: Sweep costs USF Big East crown
USF baseball, needing just one win in three tries to win a Big East regular-season title, instead was swept at Louisville, the final loss a 12-1 rout that clinched first place for the Cardinals.
The Bulls (32-22, 18-9), who opened conference play with a 16-3 record, dropped five of their final six games and will have the No. 2 seed in the Big East tournament, which starts Tuesday in Clearwater.
After two close losses -- 2-1 on Thursday night and 4-3 on Friday afternoon -- the Bulls ran out of pitching and trailed 11-1 after four innings. Starter Teddy Kaufman, who pitched five innings on Tuesday night, retired only one batter, giving up a first-inning grand slam, the first of three Louisville home runs. Relievers Andrew Salgueiro and Zach Pietrzyk combined to give up seven runs in the next three innings, and USF's only run came on a home run by freshman shortstop Sam Mende.
The question now: Can USF put this late-season collapse behind them and regroup for the Big East tournament? Winning the tournament is realistically USF's only chance at making the NCAA regionals -- this weekend's sweep dropped USF to 0-7 against RPI top 50 opponents.