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UT baseball rights its course

The University of Tampa baseball team responded to two losses in three games against No. 23 Georgia College and State University by winning three of its first four conference games, outscoring opponents 23-6 in those victories.

Lee Cruz, a first-team All-America selection last season who led the Sunshine State Conference in home runs (17) and RBIs (71), appears to have picked up where he left off, hitting two home runs and driving in seven runs to earn Sunshine State Conference player of the week honors. The senior outfielder batted .545 with a 1.182 slugging percentage.

Cruz was first to cross the plate for UT in Tuesday's game at Florida Tech as Craig Corrado's sacrifice fly in the fourth inning helped break a scoreless tie. Kurt Baxley extended the lead to 3-0 with a two-run single in the sixth, and Roberto Mena hit his first home run an inning later as the Spartans eventually won 5-0.

Justin Valdes pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up four hits and striking out three while earning the win to improve to 2-0. A product of Dunedin High, Valdes returned to the Bay area after pitching two seasons at Louisville.

MEN'S SOCCER: Coach Adrian Bush says this year's recruiting class is one of the best in the history of the program. More evidence that the Spartans rebuilding program is headed in the right direction came in the form of four "top notch" recruits that signed last week Wednesday.

Junior college All-America Ricardo Cardoso heads the list. The junior joins the team via Georgia Perimeter Junior College where he led the nation in scoring and was a member of the school's national championship team. Heyden Ayure, a teammate of Cardoso's and also an All-America, signed with UT as well.

Ryan Maxwell, a member of Jamaica's under-20 national team, and Chad Burt, who has been ranked as one of Florida's top players for his class, round out the new signees.

Tampa finished 7-7 last year in Bush's first season.

MEN'S BASKETBALL: Point guard Mark Borders dished out 11 assists in a recent 84-51 victory over Saint Leo, raising his season total to 215 and surpassing his school record of 213, set last year.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Tampa held five of its past seven opponents to fewer than 55 points during a seven-game winning streak which began at Nova Southeastern on Jan. 21. The Spartans (18-5, 10-2) are two games behind undefeated Rollins (22-0, 12-0) and likely looking at a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.

- DAVID NORRIE, Times correspondent

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