By KY-SHON HEPBURN
Special to GoUSFBulls.com
CLEARWATER - The Bulls hit the ball well, but couldn't connect in clutch moments Wednesday night.
USF pounded out 10 hits, but fell to fifth-seeded UConn, 7-2, in the first round of hte Big East tournament at Bright House Field.
"We had plenty of opportunities to get a key hit and we didn't. That's the reason why we got beat," said head coach Lelo Prado.
The fourth-seeded Bulls hope to bounce back in the elimination game against eighth-seeded Pittsburg 5 p.m. Thursday back at at Bright House Field.
"They have to compete and see how long they want to stay here in Clearwater," said Prado.
The Huskies jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The Bulls defense committed two throwing errors to help bring home Huskies outfielder Billy Ferriter.
UConn batted in another run in the third on a RBI single by Ryan Fuller to score Tim Martin.
USF answered in the bottom of the third. Blake Sydeski put the Bulls on the board with a two out RBI single to drive home James Ramsay and cut the Bulls deficit to 2-1.
Ramsay batted 3-for-5 and leads the team with 26 multi-hit games.
"Hopefully we can come out here, starter Derrick (Stultz) will do well and hopefully we can hit well," said Ramsay.
USF threatened again in the sixth inning.
The Bulls had base runners on first and third base with no outs but were unable to score a run.
The Huskies added two more runs in the top of the sixth on RBIs by both Alex DeBellis and David Fischer to increase the their lead to 4-1.
USF starting pitcher Andrew Barbosa went six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and four strikeouts.
Adrian Puig, Steven Leasure and Kyle Parker all pitched in relief. The trio combined to pitch three innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two strikeouts.
The Bulls picked up their second run of the game in the seventh on a single by Todd Brazeal to center field to score Luis Llerena and cut the Huskies lead in half, 4-2.
UConn batted through the order and added three insurance runs in the eighth inning.
Ferriter doubled down the right-field line to score Joe Pavone, Ryan Fuller hit an infield single to score Ferriter and Verdi was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score Martin to give the Huskies their largest lead of the night, 7-2.
The Bulls rallied in the eighth inning. UConn commited two errors and the Bulls were able to load the bases with two outs, but Llerena struck out swinging to end the threat.
The Bulls put two runners on board in the ninth inning but were unable to add any runs and the Huskies sealed the win.
"Look how many guys we left on base, especially early in the game, and that's a problem. If you don't take advantage in tournament play, you get beat," said Prado.