By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
CLEARWATER - The Bulls were down, but certainly not out after Wednesday's 7-2 loss to UConn in the first round of the Big East Baseball Championship.
The tournament features a double-elimination format all the way up to Sunday's championship game and USF knows to go deep into the weekend it must handle its business 5 p.m. Thursday against Pitt.
"They have to compete and see how long they want to stay here in Clearwater," head coach Lelo Prado said.
Eighth-seeded Pitt (28-27) has dropped five of its past seven games including an 8-4 loss to top-seeded Louisville on Wednesday night. USF (34-21) has confidence on its side heading into the game after taking two of three from the Panthers in Pittsburgh.
"This game is all about confidence. Hopefully we can hit at good times, hit with runners in scoring position, and keep the intensity," said center fielder James Ramsay, who went 3-for-5 in the first round of the tournament.
The Bulls also have a reliable starter on the mound in Derrick Stultz. The senior right-hander led all USF pitchers this regular season with an 8-1 record that helped earn him All-Big East second team honors.
"Hopefully we can come out here, Derrick will do well and hopefully we can hit well," Ramsay said.
You can watch Thursday's action live online at BigEastbaseball.com. With a win, the Bulls would move on to play 6 p.m. Friday against the loser of Thursday night's Louisville-UConn game that's set for an 8 p.m. start.
Here is USF's starting lineup for Thursday's game:
Alex Mendez, LF
Luis Llerena, 2B
James Ramsay, CF
Todd Brazeal, 1B
Blake Sydeski, DH
Jimmy Falla, RF
Zac Gilcrease, 3B
Andrew Longley, C
Kyle Teaf, SS