Knights beat No. 4 UF on Sweeney’s clutch double
Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 16:04
Tuesday's 4-3 win over the No. 4 Florida Gators was the Knights baseball team's biggest victory this season and it couldn't have come at a better time.
"It's the highest-ranked team we've faced this year and it was a great win for us," said head coach Terry Rooney. "To start our second half with a win like this, it's very special."
The Knights (20-9) upset the Gators (24-6) thanks to a ninth inning, game-winning double by shortstop Darnell Sweeney and the Knights improved to 5-5 against ranked opponents this season.
After getting swept for the first time this season by No. 20 Southern Miss last weekend, the baseball team was hungry for a win.
"It was a great win for our team," Rooney said. "Not only was it a big win because of how we bounced back today but from over the weekend as well. This win showed a lot of character."
Down 3-2 in the top of the ninth, the Knights earned their first lead of the game on Sweeney's double, which knocked in Beau Taylor and Ryan Breen.
"Darnell hits at the top of our lineup for a reason," Rooney said. "He is a tremendous player and did a fantastic job at the plate. That was a clutch hit all the way."
The other two runs for the Knights' offense came off of two solo home runs by Breen and Erik Hempe. The Knights had seven hits in the game and two each from Taylor, Breen and Sweeney.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Ronnie Richardson came in to pitch for his first save opportunity of the season.
The team's regular closer Joe Rogers was unavailable after pitching four innings on Sunday.
It was Richardson's third appearance on the mound this season and he retired Florida's 2-4 hitters to earn his first save.
Chase Bradford got the start for the Knights, pitching two innings, striking out one and allowing two runs off of one hit.
The bullpen was Knight's unsung group of heroes. The team used Brian Brown, Nick Cicio, Matt Collins, D.J. Hicks and Danny Winkler to shut out the Gators offense for the rest of the game. The six relievers pitched seven innings, struck out four and allowed no runs on six hits.
"It was pre-determined to use a lot of pitchers in the game tonight," Rooney said. "We had planned to use six to nine pitchers tonight and they all did a great job of keeping us in the game."
Hicks earned the win for the Knights, pitching one inning and allowing one hit.
The win gives the baseball team its fourth win over a top-five team since 2008. Tuesday was also the Knights' ninth consecutive game against a nationally ranked opponent.