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USF baseball takes final game vs. Cards
Posted Apr 23, 2011 by Adam Adkins
Updated Apr 23, 2011 at 08:55 PM
The University of South Florida baseball team pounded out a season-high 18 hits Saturday in a 10-5 win at Louisville to avoid a three-game sweep against their Big East Conference foes.
The Bulls had nine hits - including eight consecutive - in a decisive seven-run fifth inning that lasted more than two hours because of a pair of weather delays. Sam Mende, who tied a career-high with four hits, had a two-run home run and an RBI single in the inning, while Andrew Longley provided the biggest blast with a grand slam home run that broke a 3-3 tie.
“We hit the ball really hard. It’s something that we’ve been hoping we’d do, but we just haven’t done it,” USF coach Lelo Prado said. “It was nice to see Longley get a great at-bat, and it was nice to see Mende get on track.”
While the Bulls had their conference series win streak snapped at three by losing two of three against the Cardinals, Prado was encouraged with the majority of what he saw from his club. The Bulls were doomed in each of the first two games by a big inning - Louisville used a five-run seventh to earn a 6-4 win in Thursday’s series opener, and had a five-run fourth in a 7-2 win Friday.
“The first two, you take away that one inning and we played solid all weekend, so there were a lot of positives,” Prado said. “It was a positive weekend and hopefully we build on this and get ready for our next 15 games because there isn’t an easy one on the schedule.”
The biggest concern for Prado right now is his starting pitching outside of No. 1 option senior Randy Fontanez, who suffered his first loss in conference play Thursday but had been stellar in his previous four league starts, going at least eight innings in each one.
Prado said he plans to use plenty of arms in a non-conference matchup at Miami on Wednesday to try and solidify his rotation for a crucial three-game home series with St. John’s, which begins Friday.
“Kyle (Eastham) didn’t pitch good this weekend, Matt (Reed) didn’t pitched good this weekend. (Andrew) Loynaz pitched OK, but we’ve just got to get somebody,” Prado said. “Zach (Pietrzyk) did OK, and Zach’s a guy that keeps sticking out because he’s a strike thrower. Janick Serrallonga pitched really good, and I’ve just got to hope somebody steps up. And the mystery guy is Nick Gonzalez.”
Gonzalez, a freshman left-hander who began the season as USF’s Sunday starter, made an appearance in Thursday’s series opener against the Cardinals but walked the only batter he faced on four pitches. His most recent appearance prior to that was in a 9-1 loss against Stetson on April 12 when he gave up seven earned runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings in the start, though both pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and Prado believed Gonzalez showed better command of his pitches than he had in previous outings.
Pietrzyk, a senior right-hander, made his second career start last Tuesday against Stetson and tossed three scoreless innings to earn the win. Serrallonga, a freshman lefty who worked three scoreless innings of relief in Friday’s game, has yet to give up a run in six innings this season.