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USF at Louisville Game 1: L, 2-1
USF at Louisville | May 15 | 6 p.m. | Louisville, Ky.
USF at Louisville | May 16 | 1 p.m. | Louisville, Ky.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of South Florida baseball team will have to wait another day to try and clinch a regular season BIG EAST Championship after the Bulls dropped game one to Louisville 2-1 Thursday night.
The Bulls scored one in the ninth, but we not able to complete the comeback and now lead the Cardinals by just a half game with two games left.
USF needs to win one of the final two games of the season to clinch the first regular season BIG EAST Championship in program history.
USF starter Derrick Stultz earned the loss, his fourth of the season, after giving up a pair of runs on five hits through 5.0 innings while striking out two.
Kevin Quackenbush came on to relieve Stultz and pitched the final three innings without allowing a run or a hit.
Louisville starter Justin Marks pitched 7.2 innings and allowed no runs on four hits while striking out 12 Bulls.
USF got hits from five different players, but only Stephen Hunt was able to collect an RBI in the ninth inning on a ground out to short.
The Bulls got their leadoff hitter on in the first and second innings on a double from Lockwood in the first and a single by Chris Rey in the second, but the offense could not capitalize.
Lockwood advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Brotons after his double in the first, but USF would not get a runner past second base again until the ninth inning.
Ryan Lockwood started the game with a leadoff double to right field, but the Bulls were unable to plate him after a sac bunt by Jonathan Koscso moved him to third.
Chris Rey led the second inning with a base hit, but a pair of strikeouts and a ground out ended USF’s chance to score.
Louisville took advantage of the opportunity, scoring one run in the second on a line drive home run down the left line by UofL’s Alec Lowrey.
The Cardinals added another run in the fourth after a leadoff double from Andrew Clark and an RBI-single by Ryan Wright.
The Bulls got a single from Junior Carlin to begin the ninth, then with one out, Brandon Smith reached on a two-base error by the first baseman to give USF runners on second and third. Carlin scored on a ground ball to short for the second out of the inning to bring up Sam Mende. Mende struck out stranding pinch-runner Mike Consolmagno at third.
USF and Louisville will square off again on Friday at 6 p.m. The Bulls can clinch the BIG EAST regular season Championship and the No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST Tournament with a win.
With 2 wins, 1 loss - USF wins the BIG EAST with a 20-7 record, tying the 20 wins in 1996.
With 1 win, 2 losses - USF wins the BIG EAST. With West Virginia's loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday, the Mountaineers are out of the race for first place.
With 0 wins, 3 losses - USF falls to 18-9 (.667), and UofL improves to 19-7 (.731) to win the league. With West Virginia's loss to Pittsburgh and St. John's loss to Notre Dame on Thursday, the Mountaineers and Red Storm are out of the race.
Prado and USF Baseball Closing in on Milestones
Coach Lelo Prado is closing in on some career milestones, including 100 USF wins, 700 career wins and 1200 games coached. He is currently at 97 USF wins, 695 career victories and 1195 total games coached.
As a program, USF baseball has played 2296 career games and has 1282 all-time victories.
USF All-Time Conference Titles
With one victory over Louisville, the Bulls will clinch their seventh regular season conference championship. The first came in 1981 when the Bulls went 5-3 in Sun Belt play, good for a tie for first. USF has won a regular season championship in three different conferences (Sun Belt, Metro and Conference USA). If the Bulls are able to win at Louisville this weekend to capture the BIG EAST regular season crown, it would be the fourth conference in which USF has finished on the top.