Even in loss, Bulls like day in spotlight

By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
Published March 1, 2008

TAMPA - Call it the most enjoyable 11-4 loss in USF baseball history.

The Bulls got a memorable brush with celebrity Friday at Legends Field, playing a spring exhibition against the Yankees. And while USF managed only two hits, the Bulls made the most out of those moments.

The big blow came in the sixth inning when Kei Igawa walked two then hit USF's Addison Maruszak to load the bases. Coach Lelo Prado pinch hit senior Eric Baumann, an Armwood graduate whose last hit came at Duke in 2005, before he missed two seasons with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Baumann sent the first pitch over the leftfield wall.

"It's been a while since I've had a feeling like that," he said. "It's surreal. I knew I hit it hard, so I just started running. I heard the crowd and looked up. I thought, 'It's unbelievable I just did that.'"

If Baumann's grand slam was the biggest hit, Mike Consolmagno's single up the middle in the fourth might have been the most appreciated. The senior from Staten Island had 40 relatives and friends who flew in from New York, all in the upper deck, decked in white T-shirts bearing his name and his No.4.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the kids," said his father, Tom, from the stands. "Mike's been a Yankees fan since birth. It's such a great experience because we're a baseball family. There's nothing better than to have our family all here."

Mike Consolmagno said he was starstruck, especially when he made it to first and found himself chatting with former AL MVP Jason Giambi.

"He was like all 'Good job,' I wanted to hug him, I was so excited," he said. "But I relaxed and just said, 'Oh, what's going on?' tried to make like it was just cool."

Even the awkward moments came off fine, like when Bulls starter Shawn Sanford plunked Yankees star Derek Jeter in the left elbow.

"After I got into the dugout, the guys were all laughing and it turned into 'I hope I didn't hurt him.' He's the starting shortstop in the All-Star Game," Sanford said. "He took his time getting over to first, let me know I hit him pretty good."