CLEARWATER - After losing their first game in the tournament, USF wins two games against UConn to advance in the Big East tournament Saturday night.
The Bulls were able to capitalize on two errors by UConn to send the Huskies home, 2-1, and head to the Big East tournament championship at Bright House Field.
"I'm just so proud of our kids, they've worked so hard," said head coach Lelo Prado.
The Bulls will face St. Johns in their first appearance in the Big East championship game noon Sunday in Clearwater. "For us to be playing in the championship, it says a lot about these young men," said Prado.
USF got exceptional pitching in both games. Senior Derrick Stutlz got things going pitching a complete game shutout to lift the Bulls over the Huskies, 1-0, in the first game. Nick Gonzalez started the second game and struck out eight batters through six innings allowing one run on four hits.
"He (Gonzalez) got the stuff. Next year he's going to be a starter and if that's what we're going to get from him I'll be a happy guy," said Prado. Relievers Steven Leasure and Austin Adams combined to pitch three innings allowing no runs and just one hit.
"Our pitching staff was outstanding," said Prado.
UConn got on the scoreboard first. Tim Martin hit a two-out double followed by an RBI single by LJ Mazzilli to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead through six.
USF rallied in the seventh manufacturing runs to take a 2-1 lead. Jimmy Falla and Daniel Rockhold both scored on passed balls to put the Bulls up and seal the win.
UConn held a perfect 5-0 record in the conference tournament against the Bulls until today.
"They made some mistakes and we took advantage of it," said Prado.