USF sending West Virginia out as winners, again
USF has had the odd luck of being West Virginia's final Big East opponent in several sports, but the Bulls haven't been able to deliver a proper goodbye as the Mountaineers move on to the Big 12.
It happened in football, when West Virginia rallied to win in the final minute in Tampa in December, and again in men's basketball, when USF closed out its regular season with a rare home loss to the Mountaineers. And now in baseball, where USF entered the weekend with a chance at a Big East title, but has taken two disappointing losses in West Virginia's farewell series.
The Bulls (33-20, 16-10) lost 10-8 on Friday night, dropping to a tie for third in the Big East standings and assuring themselves of no better than a No. 3 seed in next week's Big East tournament. The Bulls dug a big hole early, with starter Derrick Stultz lasting just 1.2 innings and giving up six runs on five hits. Down 8-3, the Bulls ralllied with five runs in the fifth, only to see the offense stop there and West Virginia pull out the win.
Entering the final day of the regular season, the Bulls are tied with Seton Hall at 16-10, and only one game ahead of Rutgers and Connecticut at 15-11. The Bulls swept UConn last week so they'd win the tiebreaker there, but didn't play Rutgers, leaving a complicated tiebreaker. There's only two games separating second and sixth place in the standings, so seed in the conference tournament only matters significantly on the opening day of the tournament. USF will likely face a UConn team they just swept, or a Seton Hall or Rutgers team they haven't faced.
With two losses to a team that entered the weekend 22-31, USF has hurt its position as an NCAA bubble team, but the Bulls can help themselves in Clearwater. The Bulls and Mountaineers finish their series today at 1 p.m. ET.