TAMPA – With just five weeks left in the regular season, the Bulls play host to Louisville at home with big time Big East implications.
The Bulls enter the weekend series atop the league standings at 10-2 in Big East play and 26-12 overall just 2.0 games ahead of the Cardinals who enter at 8-4 in conference play and 26-11 overall.
The thing that has put USF at the top of the league standings?
“It has been a new guy every day that has stepped up,” head coach Lelo Prado said. “That is what makes it fun. You don’t know which guy will step up each day to be the hero.”
The Bulls will be looking for three new heroes to add to the season list this weekend as Prado squares off against his former squad, a team he coached for 11 years from 1995-2006.
“Their pitching staff is just like our pitching staff which is pretty good,” Prado said. “We are going to pitch with them, and we are going to have to find a way to score some runs. It is going to be a challenge, but it is a good problem to have.”
The Bulls will throw Andrew Barbosa (4-3, 2.30 ERA, 62 SO) on Friday against Louisville ace Justin Amlung (6-3, 2.45 ERA, 61 SO) in a matchup of the top two strikeout pitchers in the Big East.
Saturday will pin the two conference wins leaders against each other in Joey Lovecchio (7-0, 2.78 ERA, 34 SO) and Jeff Thompson (7-1, 3.61 ERA, 55 SO).
The Bulls will throw Derrick Stultz (5-1, 4.15 ERA, 42 strikeouts) on Sunday against Louisville’s Jared Ruxer (5-0, 2.58 ERA, 21 SO) in the series finale.
Prado knows the importance of the three game set, and also knows a few more heroic performances this weekend can put them in a good place heading into the stretch run of Big East play.
“It is just a big game,” Prado said. “Every one of them is big in the last five weeks because it means something. I want these guys to finish the last five weeks the right way, and if they do that, they will have all their goals right in front of them.”
USF and Louisville square off at the USF baseball stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday with the finale starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday.