Three key baseball players suspended
Lelo Prado's Bulls baseball team will have to go through a key weekend series without its top two hitters and its winningest pitcher, each suspended for a three-game series at home against No. 24 Georgia Tech.
Infielders Walter Diaz and Dexter Butler, who have the team's top two batting averages at .377 and .359, respectively, will not play because of an unspecified violation of team rules. Pitcher Chris Delaney, who leads the team with an 8-1 record, will not make his scheduled start because of a separate rules violation. Prado also confirmed that reliever Davis Bilardello, third on the staff with 19 appearances, is no longer with the team.
"We're going to have guys that represent the program on the field, in the classroom and off the field the right way," Prado said. "It's stupid stuff, but you've got to lay the groundwork for the future of this program."
Prado said that all three suspended players will be allowed to play again, starting with Friday's Big East game at Seton Hall. The Bulls, who have dropped six of their last seven games to fall to 28-18 and 10-11 in the Big East, need a strong finish to have reasonable expectations of earning an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulls have dropped eight of their last 10 conference games, falling into fifth place in the league standings.
"I said I only need 12 or 15 guys. If that's what it takes, we've got to clean up," Prado said. "I was told that from the very beginning, and now I'm seeing it."
The biggest absence might be Diaz, who leads the Big East with 72 hits and had a 24-game hitting streak this season. Prado said that freshman Shaun Sanford, who has been effective as the team's closer, will start on the mound in Delaney's place Sunday. Sanford made his first USF start on Sunday, pitching well in a 4-2 loss to Louisville.