USF baseball advances to Big East tournament final
The University of South Florida baseball team will play for the Big East Conference tournament championship. After two Saturday elimination-game victories against Connecticut – 1-0 during the day and 2-1 at night – the Bulls (38-21) meet St. John's (36-21) in the championship game at noon on Sunday at Bright House Field in Clearwater. The Bulls are expected to start ace senior left-hander Andrew Barbosa, a first-team All-Big East selection. St. John's advanced with a 2-1 victory against Notre Dame.Today's winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. USF, which hasn't played at an NCAA Regional since 2002, might already be in line for an at-large bid because of the four-game win streak that has propelled the Bulls into the Big East final. The Bulls are playing in their first conference tournament baseball final since 2001, when they played in Conference USA. USF's last conference baseball tournament championship was 1995 in the Metro Conference. Coach Lelo Prado's Bulls came into Saturday with an 0-5 mark against UConn at the Big East tournament. But USF completed a sweep in the night game, getting six strong innings from Nick Gonzalez and scoring both runs on wild pitches. The Bulls began on the right foot in the opening game as senior right-hander Derrick Stultz (9-1), who missed the past two seasons with injury, tossed a complete-game three-hit shutout and helped to preserve USF's staff. It was only the second complete game of Stultz's career, along with a win against St. John's on May 11, 2008. Stultz, who faced 34 batters, got all the support he needed on Jimmy Falla's solo home run in the top of the fourth inning.