CLEARWATER — A long season for the USF baseball team continued Wednesday, 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 convert the same scenario into a 3-2 win.
"You've got to swing the bats," coach Lelo Prado said after his team lost its Big East tournament opener at Bright House Field with only five hits. "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 pitchers' duel between USF's Randy Fontanez (5-7) and St. John's starter Kyle Hansen was tied at 1 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 issued 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 chopper to third base, where Jonathan Koscso failed to tag the lead runner in time. With the bases loaded, Sean O'Hare won it, ripping a shot to left.
Fifth-seeded USF (25-31) now faces eighth-seeded West Virginia (27-29) at 5 p.m. today 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.
Louisville 11, W.Va. 4: The top-seeded Cardinals (47-10) trailed by three in the sixth but rallied with 10 runs over two innings — five off the bat of Ryan Wright. The second baseman was 2-for-5, including a three-run homer in the seventh that gave the Cardinals the lead.
RUTGERS 9, PITTSBURGH 5: The sixth-seeded Scarlet Knights (29-24) had 11 hits and a 9-0 lead in the first two innings, beating the No. 3 seed Panthers (37-17) for the third time in four tries this season.
UCONN 9, CINCINNATI 6: The No. 2 seed Huskies (44-12), down 6-3 in the sixth inning, rallied behind three hits by centerfielder George Springer. Connecticut plays Rutgers at 1 p.m. today for a spot in Saturday's semifinals, while seventh-seeded Cincinnati (29-28) and Pittsburgh meet at 10 a.m. in an elimination game.
Gators fall: Austin Nola and Mason Katz each had three hits and two RBIs as LSU pounded out 19 hits in defeating top-seeded Florida 10-6 in the first round at Hoover, Ala. The Gators (40-14) fell behind for good when eighth-seeded LSU (37-20) scored five runs in the second inning.
The Tigers play today against Vanderbilt, which beat Arkansas. Florida plays Arkansas in an elimination game.
Miami thumps FSU: Nathan Melendres and Michael Broad hit back-to-back home runs to lead fourth-seeded Miami past fifth-seeded Florida State 9-3 in the first round in Greensboro, N.C. The Seminoles managed just one hit over the final four innings. Miami (40-15) faces Boston College in pool play today before the Seminoles (39-17) play top-seeded Virginia, which beat Boston College 6-4.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.