WHO: USF (1-2) at No. 9 FSU (4-0) WHEN: 4 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday WHERE: Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium, Tallahassee WATCH ONLINE: ESPN3 (Saturday and Sunday) RADIO: 1010-AM
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The Bulls will gain NCAA tournament-type experience
this weekend at one of the most difficult places to play in all of college
USF starts a three-game set with No. 9 Florida State 4 p.m.
Friday at Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee. The Seminoles
(4-0) have the highest winning percent in Division I since 2000 and have won at
least a share of the ACC Atlantic Division title in each of the past six
"If we go to regionals somewhere it's either going to be
Florida State, Florida or Miami. You have to learn how to play at those places,"
USF head coach Lelo Prado said. "It's a good experience for the young guys and
even some of the older guys."
USF hasn't faced FSU since NCAA regionals in 2002 when the
Seminoles knocked the Bulls out of the NCAA tournament with a 13-6 victory. The
programs haven't met in the regular season since 1989 when USF took three out
of four from the Seminoles.
"It's a great challenge. We knew going into the season that
this is a big weekend to see where we're at," Prado said. "We have to play a lot
better than last weekend."
The Bulls went 1-2 at the Big East-Big Ten Challenge on
opening weekend and Prado is looking for his pitching staff to regroup after
giving up 19 earned runs.
"We have to get our pitching down right and we have to keep
swinging the bats like we did last weekend," Prado said.
Senior Joey Lovecchio will start either Friday or Saturday
after giving the Bulls five quality innings in a 20-2 win over Purdue last
Saturday. The right-hander gave up two
unearned runs on five hits and struck out five batters.
"We told him before the game that we needed a big outing
from him and he gave it to us. It's probably the best I've seen Joe throw,"
USF Bats Make Noise on Opening Weekend
Prado said before the season that USF would be better on
offense and the Bulls started off their 2013 campaign by hitting .342 as a team.
Senior Chris Norton made the Big East Honor Roll by going
6-for-10 with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored. The Bulls also got a
lot of production from redshirt freshman Nik Alfonso, who went 5-for-9 with a
double and six RBIs.
"I'm glad to see when kids practice as hard as they do
that they get some success," Prado said. "Both of those guys coming into the
weekend weren't going to play a whole lot. They ended up playing a lot and
did some good things."
Alfonso was happy to actually get real at-bats after sitting
out all of last season. The last time the utility man played in a game was in 2011 when he won team MVP honors at Tampa Catholic.
"What that one year off did for me was make me really
hungry," Alfonso said. "I was excited to get into the lineup and not just be
part of a baseball team, but make an impact as a player."
The Bulls play a single game at UCF on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. before beginning an eight-game home stand. The Bulls start their run
at USF baseball stadium March 1-3 against Toledo. USF faces Boston College
March 5-6 and hosts Valparaiso March 8-10.