Bulls Eliminate WVU to Stay Alive in BIG EAST Championships
CLEARWATER, Fla.--Win or go home.
That was the situation the University of South Florida baseball team (26-31) faced coming into Thursday's elimination game against West Virginia at Bright House Field.
With an early 2-0 WVU lead, the Bulls survived to play another day as sophomore Todd Brazeal erased the Mountaineer lead with a three-run homer in the third inning and USF never looked back as starter Andrew Barbosa cruised on the mound en route to a 10-5 victory over the eighth-seeded Mountaineers.
The elimination of the Mountaineers marks the third straight year that the Bulls have knocked out WVU from the BIG EAST Championships.
Brazeals' three-run shot went right through a stiff breeze blowing in from left field for his fifth of the season and the tenth of his career.
From there Barbosa took control en route to his eighth win of the season.
Barbosa (8-2) gave the Bulls his 11th quality start in 14 outings for the season going 7.0 solid innings allowing three earned runs while scattering six hits. He struck out eight while walking just two.
At one point Barbosa fanned five straight Mountaineers, who the 6-8 lefty has never faced prior to this meeting.
The story line offensively for the Bulls was scoring with two outs. Of USF's 10 runs on the night, nine of them came with two outs and seven of their 12 hits on the night came with two down.
The Bulls offense continuously put runners on as they had a base runner in every inning and successfully put the lead off runner on in seven of the nine innings.
West Virginia cut the lead to 4-2 in the fifth but USF answered by scoring five runs over the next three frames highlighted by a three spot in the sixth thanks to a two-out RBI single from Stephen Hunt and a two-run single from Jonathan Koscso on the very next pitch. Koscso also scored three times on the night after reaching base five times.
Chad Taylor and Luis Llerena had back-to-back RBI singles in the top of the seventh to give Barbosa a 9-3 cushion.
The Bulls outhit West Virginia, 12-8, on the night led by a three-hit performance by Llerena. Eight of the Bulls nine starters collected a hit while Koscso and Daniel Rockhold each had two hits apiece.
Unfortunately, the Bulls situation does not change as they are still in a win or go home position. The Bulls will face the loser of Louisville or St. John's Friday at 7 p.m. in an another elimination game.
USF is now 7-9 in the BIG EAST Championships... The three earned runs is the most Barbosa has allowed against a BIG EAST opponent in 2010... His eight strikeouts is the most since striking 10 against Villanova on Apr. 24... Barbosa has struck 95 batters in 86.1 innings... Barbosa's eight wins is the most since 2007 when Chris Delaney and Danny Otero each had nine wins... Jonathan Koscso's fifth inning doubled marked the 200th hit of his career... By being hit in the eighth inning, Koscso tied the school career hit by pitch record of 55...