Knights down UAB 6-4
Published: Sunday, May 29, 2011
Updated: Sunday, May 29, 2011 13:05
Jonathan Griffin's three-run blast in the eighth inning was the difference in No. 4 UCF's 6-4 defeat of No. 8 UAB on Thursday in the Conference USA Championship.
The Knights trailed 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth when Ronnie Richardson, Beau Taylor and D.J. Hicks hit three-straight singles to load the bases. Richardson was thrown out at third and with two outs and two on base, Griffin stepped up to the plate.
He sent his first pitch over the left-center fence to win the game for UCF, which is now 2-0 in pool play and will play No. 1 Rice (1-1) on Friday at 1:30 p.m.
"Jonathan Griffin has been one of the best hitters in the country, especially in the second half of the season," head coach Terry Rooney said in a release. "In my opinion you've got to have guys that can drive the ball out of the yard even with the new bats. And we have been able to get back into games because of that."
The Knights led in the third inning, 2-1, but blew the lead when starter Danny Winkler, who struck out seven but did not get a decision, gave up an RBI double in the fifth to let UAB tie the game and gave up two runs in the sixth.
Southpaw Nick Cicio took over with no outs in the sixth, and fellow lefty Joe Rogers relieved Cicio in the bottom of the ninth. Cicio earned the win and Rogers got his ninth save of the season as the pair combined for four scoreless innings on only two hits.
Rogers had the tying run at the plate in the ninth but struck out two to strand the runner at second and end the game.
Travis Shreve and Darnell Sweeney scored in the third inning on a throwing error following Taylor's sacrifice fly. In the seventh, Derek Luciano, who went 2-for-4 with two doubles, sent a leadoff double to center and scored on Ryan Breen's infield groundout.
UCF and Rice will face off on Friday, and whichever team that wins will earn a spot in the C-USA title game on Saturday.