Knights’ fiery offense dominates UAB series
Published: Sunday, May 15, 2011
Updated: Sunday, May 15, 2011 23:05
The Knights found themselves in a position they hadn't been in since 2006 on Saturday — scoreless through nine innings.
However, the offense exploded in the 10th, scoring nine runs capped off by an Erik Hempe grand slam, to beat UAB 9-0 and take the series on Saturday.
After UAB made its first pitching change in the top of the 10th, Hempe opened up with a double. Four batters later and with the bases loaded, Ronnie Richardson hit the game-winning single, knocking in Ryan Breen and Travis Shreve.
"I was hoping Ronnie would come through there, and I had a lot of confidence in him," Breen said. "He was just trying to put something in the air, trying to put something through the infield, and he took one off the end of the bat and got it through; felt pretty good."
Richardson's single opened the floodgates.
D.J. Hicks singled home another pair of runs. Derek Luciano walked with the bases loaded, forcing Beau Taylor home. When Hempe stepped to the plate for the second time in the inning, he hit a grand slam to conclude UCF's nine-run rally.
Hempe's grand slam was the Knights' fourth of the season and the perfect way to end his 22nd birthday.
"Obviously we put together a lot of great at-bats, especially in that inning, and overall it was a great college baseball game with two great pitchers going at it," said head coach Terry Rooney.
Starter Danny Winkler and reliever Nick Cicio combined for 10 shutout innings with eight strikeouts and seven hits.
"Outstanding performances," Hempe said. "Danny has been hot his last few starts and he put up almost [seven] scoreless innings and Cicio's been doing it all year and both of them, just great job on the mound."
UAB starter Ryan Woolley threw nine shutout innings for the Blazers (27-24, 9-14 C-USA), allowing only six Knights to reach base.
"I knew going in that it would be a pitching battle and I would have to have my best stuff," Winkler said in a release. "I got out of a couple of jams, let the defense work and the wind blowing in helped as well."
The UCF defense played its sixth-straight game without committing an error.
The Knights (32-19, 9-11 C-USA) used another big inning late in Friday night's game when Taylor and Jonathan Griffin knocked out solo home runs in the ninth inning to break a 3-3 tie and secure a 5-3 win.
Taylor sent the first pitch of the ninth inning over the wall in right center for his fourth home run of the season. Two batters later, Griffin slammed the first pitch he saw to left center for his 14th of the season.
Joe Rogers, who entered the game in the seventh inning, earned his fourth win of the season after Brian Adkins surrendered two runs over 6-2/3 innings.
"I was just trying to keep the ball down and let the defense play behind me," Adkins said in a release. "I don't feel like I had my best stuff but I competed with what I had and luckily it was enough for the win. We knew coming in this was a huge series for us. You always want to get the victory on Friday and then try to carry that over into Saturday."
The Knights, ranked No. 28 in the nation, hammered the Blazers 18-6 in eight innings on Sunday.
The win marks UCF's first-ever series sweep against UAB. With the victory, the Knights are guaranteed a spot in the C-USA tournament starting on May 25 in Pearl, Miss.