UCF takes conference series from Pirates
Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 26, 2012 09:03
The ECU Pirates (15-7) outslugged UCF (19-5) Sunday, taking a 15-6 victory and avoiding the sweep in the final game of the first Conference USA series of the season.
UCF banged out 11 hits and scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth, but the Knights were unable to slow down ECU’s bats, giving up runs in six of nine innings on 19 hits. Starting pitcher Eric Skoglund was tagged with the loss after pitching for 2-1/3 innings and giving up four runs, two of which were unearned.
ECU starting pitcher Jharel Cotton allowed only two runs over seven innings, striking out 11 batters.
Senior Alex Friedrich homered for the second time in as many games in the fourth inning, and the right fielder racked up six hits over the last two games of the series.
On Saturday, the Knights surged for three home runs and guaranteed their first C-USA series victory with a 10-6 win over the Pirates.
Two solo home runs in the fifth inning gave UCF a lead it would never relinquish.
Friedrich and junior Ryan Breen, who hit the pair of solo shots in the fifth, combined for seven hits on the day.
“The guys are really starting to feel it at the plate,” Breen said. “This is how we should be hitting the ball every day.”
Despite the offensive production, UCF trailed early in the game. The Knights got off to a rough start as starting pitcher Ben Lively let up four runs off of three hits and two errors in the second inning.
Head coach Terry Rooney replaced Lively with Chris Matulis, who came in and immediately worked his way out of a bases-loaded situation. Matulis pitched 4-1/3 innings, allowed two runs and struck out seven on his way earning a win.
“We got down early, but the kids kept fighting and clawing their way back, and they did a great job,” Rooney said. “Today was really a solid team effort in a lot of ways.”
On Friday night, strong pitching and clutch hitting lifted the Knights past ECU 2-1 in Game One of the series.
“We hoped that we have so many one-run games prior to this point that we wouldn’t panic and we would maintain our composure and our poise,” Rooney said. “Tonight I think we benefitted from those past experiences.”
Junior Ronnie Richardson broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning with an RBI double to deep left field, which allowed Travis Shreve, who reached base on an infield single, to score.
Junior Brian Adkins started the game on the mound for UCF and pitched deep into the game, putting in seven innings of work over which he only allowed one run.
“This is definitely my best start of the season,” Adkins said. “It felt good to get that one off of my back.”
The start produced a historic moment for Adkins in the fifth inning when he struck out his 100th career batter.
Closer Joe Rogers earned the win after coming into a tied game in the eighth. Rogers didn’t give up a run, despite allowing a runner to reach base in both innings.
The Knights are scheduled next to go on the road and play at Florida Atlantic Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.