Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Prado hopes USF Bulls hit it big in AAC baseball tourney

Sophomore ace Jimmy Herget has a 7-6 record and 1.28 ERA.


Sophomore ace Jimmy Herget has a 7-6 record and 1.28 ERA.

I told my players it's time for this program to get to a (NCAA) regional and compete for conference championships. We've got a beautiful facility, we've got good players and I can't accept anything less than that. We've got to raise the bar here.

— USF coach Lelo Prado, Feb. 7

TAMPA — Technically, the postseason remains in play for USF's baseball team.

A historic resurgence is only a hot streak away in this week's American Athletic Conference tournament. With steady pitching (which USF has had) and a timely hit or two (which it hasn't), the Bulls (26-29) could keep their outgoing coach in the dugout another week or two.

"They've known for two weeks now (the conference tourney) is our chance to get to the NCAA tournament," Prado said. "I think they're ready to go and they'll play well."

It's conceivable. Just not likely. A season that dawned with bold statements appears poised to end with a whimper. Instead of watching his team finally turn the corner, Prado (250-219 at USF) painted himself into one with his preseason assertion.

Barring a cannonball-style splash in pool play, the Bulls' appearance in this week's eight-team tournament at Clearwater's Bright House Field will be Prado's swan song. On Monday, he and athletic director Mark Harlan mutually announced Prado is stepping down to take an administrative role in USF's athletic department.

Would the change be occurring had USF performed better? Hard to say. Prado, 51, indicated he has been contemplating a retirement from coaching, and that the opportunity offered by Harlan only expedited things. But what isn't disputed is that he expected more from this, his eighth Bulls team.

A club Prado called the biggest and strongest of his tenure in early February enters late May last in the league in home runs (nine) and slugging percentage (.326). But far more telling than the lack of towering shots is the lack of timely ones.

USF has 17 losses by two or fewer runs, including seven by one run. The Bulls, hitting .260, have grounded into a conference-high 41 double plays.

"We're right there," said Prado, whose team has lost six of its past seven. "A couple of hits here and there and we've got 40 wins."

The pitching (3.44 ERA), behind sophomore ace Jimmy Herget (7-6, 1.28) and No. 2 starter Casey Mulholland (4-2, 3.13), has held up its end.

But the hits must start adding up.

"All those clutch hits y'all are talking about, I need a couple of those," Prado told reporters Monday. "It starts off with pitching. If we get good pitching and play good defense … the conference tournament's going to be a dogfight, but I think our kids are excited."

Awards: Herget, of Jefferson High, was the lone Bull named first-team all-conference. USF's Levi Borders and Kyle Teaf made the second team and Luke Borders was on the third UCF's Eric Skoglund was named pitcher of the year and Louisville outfielder Jeff Gardner was the player of the year.

American Athletic baseball tournament

When: Today-Sunday

Where: Bright House Field, Clearwater

Pool A: No. 1 Louisville (43-13 overall, 19-5 AAC), No. 4 Rutgers (29-23, 14-9), No. 5 USF (26-29, 10-14), No. 8 Memphis (28-28, 8-16)

Pool B: No. 2 UCF (34-22, 17-7), No. 3 Houston (41-14, 14-9), No. 6 Temple (14-30, 9-14), No. 7 UConn (26-29, 9-14)

Today: UConn vs. UCF, 11 a.m.; Temple vs. Houston, 3 p.m.; USF vs. Rutgers, 7

Thursday: Houston vs. UConn, 11; Memphis vs. Louisville, 3; UCF vs. Temple, 7

Friday: Rutgers vs. Memphis, 11; Louisville vs. USF, 3; Houston vs. UCF, 7

Saturday: UConn vs. Temple, 11; Rutgers vs. Louisville, 3; USF vs. Memphis, 7

Sunday: Pool A winner vs. Pool B winner, noon (ESPNU)

Prado hopes USF Bulls hit it big in AAC baseball tourney 05/20/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 8:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State


    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.
  2. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  3. Lightning confused by NHL's slashing crackdown

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — D Victor Hedman said the joke in the Lightning locker room before Friday's exhibition game was that the over/under on slashing penalties would be six.

    "It was the over again," Hedman quipped.

    Wing Ryan Callahan, left,  pursues the Predators’ Colton Sissons, being careful how he uses his stick given the crackdown on slashing in the preseason. “It’s hard to defend when you’re so used to doing something for so long and now it’s a penalty,” Callahan says.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. What to watch in Sunday's Bucs-Vikings game


    The Bucs are in Minnesota today for their first road game of the season, and here are five things to watch for as Tampa Bay goes for its first 2-0 start since 2010.