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South Florida eliminated from Big East baseball tournament in Clearwater with loss to Connecticut Huskies

CLEARWATER — USF rallied from an 8-1 deficit Saturday to have the tying run at the plate in the eighth and ninth innings, but the Bulls saw their season end with a 10-8 loss to Connecticut in the Big East baseball tournament semifinals at Bright House Field.

"We just didn't stop them early, and that hurt us," USF coach Lelo Prado said. "We had opportunities and just didn't get it done."

The second-seeded Bulls (34-25) matched their most wins in three seasons under Prado, but with enough talent to compete for a Big East crown, anything less was a disappointment.

"This is a bad taste," said freshman shortstop Sam Mende, who went 4-for-4 in his hometown. "We have to bring a different mentality and realize what could have been this year, what we have to do next year."

No. 6 seed UConn (36-23) got four home runs, including two by third baseman Mike Olt, who had five RBIs. The Huskies play at 11 a.m. today against top seed and defending champion Louisville, which defeated Notre Dame 7-6 Saturday night. The Fighting Irish forced that game with a 6-5 win over the Cardinals earlier.

The Bulls lost seven of their last 10 league games. Their RPI is realistically too low to get an at-large bid, so they'll likely miss the 64-team NCAA field for the seventh season in a row.

FSU IN FINAL: Despite losing 9-2 to Georgia Tech to end pool play in the ACC tournament, in Durham, N.C., Florida State still clinched a spot in today's final. The Seminoles (42-15) face Virginia, which defeated Duke 11-7 to earn its spot in the final.

Calathes leaving Gators for Greece

GAINESVILLE — Nick Calathes no longer has neither the desire nor the option of returning to Florida for his junior season.

Calathes has decided to play pro basketball next season in Greece, ending speculation over whether the Casselberry native would return to the Gators. Calathes, who averaged a team-leading 17.2 points, will play for Panathinaikos.

He is of Greek heritage and is familiar with basketball there. Last summer, he failed to make Greece's Olympic team, but he spent several weeks playing for the Greek National Team in the FIBA Under-20 championships.

Calathes, 20, has not signed a contract, but a deal is imminent. Florida officials said coach Billy Donovan would have no comment Saturday evening. Whether Calathes will be allowed to keep his name in the NBA draft was uncertain. Last week, several draft analysts did not have Calathes listed as a first-round pick.

Calathes leaves after two seasons. His departure leaves UF with just one scholarship point guard on the roster, sophomore Erving Walker.

SOFTBALL: Game 1 of host Florida's best-of-three Super Region matchup against California was rained out. It was moved to 10 a.m. today with Game 2 to follow. … Alabama's Kelsi Dunne became the first player to throw back-to-back no-hitters in NCAA postseason play, holding Jacksonville State hitless for the second straight day. The host Crimson Tide advanced to the College World Series.

TENNIS: Miami's Laura Vallverdu beat Florida's Marrit Boonstra 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the women's singles championships in College Station, Texas.

FOOTBALL: The NCAA ruled Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon ineligible for his senior season after a failed drug test. … Oregon backup QB Justin Roper has been granted his release.

Times staff writer Antonya English and Times wires contributed to this report.

South Florida eliminated from Big East baseball tournament in Clearwater with loss to Connecticut Huskies 05/23/09 [Last modified: Sunday, May 24, 2009 12:05am]
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