TAMPA- A big inning and another huge performance from Andrew Barbosa made USF a winner on the national stage Friday night.
Barbosa gave up two runs in eight innings and a three-run fifth inning by the Bulls' bats paved the way for a 3-2 victory over UConn before a crowd of 1,454 at USF baseball stadium that was captured live on CBS Sports Network across the country.
USF (31-18, 14-8) moved within two games of first-place St. John's in the Big East standings after Barbosa (7-4) gave his club just what it needed for the second straight outing. The left-hander was named Big East Pitcher of the Week on Monday after allowing two hits in a complete game shutout at St. John's last Friday. The senior delivered once again by scattering five hits and striking out eight Huskies.
"He did a great job and we needed that win," head coach Lelo Prado said. "We battled, battled and got some big hits."
USF's greatest hits of the night all came in the same inning after UConn jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second. Zac Gilcrease started the two-out rally in the fifth inning with a single to right field and Andrew Longley sent him home with a double down the line in left field. Kyle Teaf's RBI single tied the game up and the freshman made it to third on a single by Alex Mendez. The Bulls grabbed the lead thanks to a perfectly placed bunt by Luis Llerena that plated Teaf after the UConn starting pitcher David Fischer had no play on slow-rolling hit in between the third base line and the mound.
"If we're going to win this and we're going to have a shot in the conference tournament, little things like that are going to show up. I'm happy for the guys," Prado said.
Equipped with the lead, Barbosa struck out the side in the sixth and didn't allow a runner to reach second base in the two innings that followed.
"When we gave him a lead he was really pretty good," Prado said. "He kept them off-stride and they didn't do anything to him."
Austin Adams picked up his third save of the season after striking out the final two batters of the game with the potential tying run standing on second base.
Game 2 of the series is slated for a 6 p.m. start on Saturday back at USF baseball stadium.