Clutch play propels UCF past Stony Brook in Coral Gables Regional
Knights to play Sunday at 7 p.m. for chance to move on to Super Regional
Published: Saturday, June 2, 2012
Updated: Sunday, June 3, 2012 15:06
CORAL GABLES— As the ball left Stony Brook third baseman William Carmona’s bat in the bottom of the eighth inning, a ton of implications held in the air with it as it sailed towards the right field wall.
If the ball bounces off the wall, with the UCF Knights leading 9-8 and the Seawolves threatening with a runner on second base, Stony Brook ties the game. If it sails over, the Seawolves take a one run lead into the ninth inning.
If UCF right fielder Alex Friedrich follows the ball back to the warning track, then the wall, with centerfielder Ronnie Richardson directing him and shouting how much room he had and makes a pivotal catch against the fence, then the Knights preserve the lead.
That’s what happened and with Joe Rogers coming on for a four-out save UCF (45-15) would eventually hold on to beat Stony Brook (47-12), 9-8.
“I heard Ronnie talking to me the whole way, telling me ‘room, room,’ and then I felt gravel and he was telling me ‘fence, fence,’” Friedrich said. “Communication really helped right there.”
In a game where the Knights belted two three-run home runs and offense would appeared to have reigned supreme, it was plays like Frierich’s on defense, and an evening of error-free baseball, that would position UCF to be one win away from a Super Regional appearance.
“That catch, [Friedrich has] been doing it all year with his defense,” head coach Terry Rooney said. “The defense doesn’t show up in the box score.”
Shortstop Darnell Sweeney started the fireworks in the top of the second with a blast that put the Knights up 5-0. Then, after Stony Brook rallied back to tie the game, designated-hitter Jeramy Matos showed off his power once again for UCF, belting a slider over the scoreboard in left field to put the Knights ahead, 8-5.
“I saw the hanger and I just through my hands [at it],” Matos said. “Then I realized it was hit pretty well.”
The Knights would add another insurance run and paired with an impressive long relief outing from Chris Matulis and Rogers’ 30th career save, UCF is now a win away from taking the Coral Gables Regional.
“Tonight was just two outstanding teams, competing like crazy,” Rooney said. “They’re at a point where they expect to win this regional.”
The Knights will play the winner of Missouri State and Stony Brook’s elimination game, which will be played Sunday at 2 p.m., at 7 p.m. A victory delivers the regional for UCF, a loss would mean a winner-takes-all finale on Monday evening.