TAMPA --The University of South Florida baseball team (23-29, 14-10 BIG EAST) dropped the rubber match of a three-game set, 10-3, Sunday afternoon against the No. 19 UConn Huskies(41-11, 18-5) in a rain-shortened contest that marked the final tilt at the current Red McEwen Field.
Big innings by the UConn attack continued to plague the USF pitching staff as the Huskies used a pair of four-run rallies on Sunday, after putting up a 10-spot in an inning yesterday. The last two days, UConn put 23 runs with 18 of them coming in three innings alone.
With the win, UConn becomes the first BIG EAST opponent to take a home series from USF since 2008. Prior to the series USF had taken 10 straight series at Red McEwen Field dating back to April of 2008. USF finishes up the 2010 home campaign 11-4 against BIG EAST and 16-11 in games at the Red.
USF fell behind early thanks to a pair of two-run homers by UConn's George Springer and Kevin Vance in the first inning off Bulls starter Andrew Salgueiro.
The Huskies, who moved back into sole possession of first place with the win coupled with a Cincinnati win over Pittsburgh earlier in the day, touched Salgueiro (1-2) up for more runs in fourth.
It was a tough Senior Day for the Miami native, as he lasted just 3.1 innings yielding eight runs on seven hits while striking out four Huskies and allowing seven earned runs.
Down 8-1, the Bulls scratched across lone runs in the three straight innings starting in the fourth to cut the UConn lead to 8-3 but it was not enough.
An RBI-double by Sam Mende with two outs in the fourth plated Alex Mendez for the Bulls' first run. Mende lead the Bulls offensively with two hits in two at-bats.
Mende seems like he might be picking up momentum offensively having tallied a base-hit in five of his last six at-bats
RBI-singles by Todd Brazeal and Luis Llerena in fifth and sixth innings accounted for the Bulls second and third runs of the contest, but USF could not get any closer as the Huskies responded with two-runs of their own in the seventh.
With two outs in the top of the eighth inning, umpires halted play due to a number of lightning strikes in the area and then after a 43-minute rain-delay the game was called.
At the plate, the Bulls collected seven hits on the day compared to the Huskies 10.
Following this weekend it doesn't get any easier for the Bulls as they head to the Steel City to take on second-place Pittsburgh on May 20-22 in the final series of the 2010 regular season.
The game marked the final game to played at the current Red McEwen Field ... Construction on brand new baseball and softball stadium will begin in the near future ... The new baseball stadium will still be known as Red McEwen Field ... Sunday's game was Senior Day and USF honored seniors Andrew Salguiero, Teddy Kaufman, Matt Quevedo, Joe Cole and junior Matt Stull, who will not compete his final year due to injury...The five were recognized by Bulls head coach Lelo Prado during an on-field pregame ceremony ... The mothers of the five seniors threw out the game's first pitch.