It may have been a freshman that threw the first pitch, but it were the seniors that delivered the knockout punches.
In the first ever top-10 matchup in program history, No. 9 UCF defeated No. 2 Florida 4-3 Tuesday night in front of a record crowd at Jay Bergman Field. All four of UCF's runs were driven in by seniors.
"It's the first time in all four years that I've been here that we've beat them," said senior third baseman Tommy Williams. "It makes us feel like we're one of the best teams in the country and we can compete with anybody."
The game was off to a fast start, with both starting pitchers facing the minimum through the first three innings. But in the fourth, UCF was finally able to push two runs across.
After a hit by pitch and a walk put runners on the corners, Williams hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Dylan Moore. After that, James Vasquez singled in Erik Barber and UCF had a two run lead.
"I think the experience of those guys certainly played a role," said UCF head coach Terry Rooney. "It's the team within the team; not only are those seniors doing great, but their leadership, their work ethic and their charisma and confidence rubs off on the young guys."
UCF defeats UF4-3 Ryan Gillespie, Central Florida Future
Florida scored one in the fifth, and the teams traded two each in the seventh to make the score 4-3 in favor of the Knights. In the top of the eighth, UF was threatening with two on and none out when Rooney went to the bullpen for the fifth time of the night.
This time, it would also be the last.
UCF sophomore pitcher Trent Thompson was able to get out of the jam in the eighth and then pitch around a walk in the ninth to record the save for UCF.
Game two of the series will be Wednesday in Gainesville. UCF senior outfielder Derrick Salberg thinks that the Gators might come out with a little more intensity.
"They're gonna play with a chip on their shoulder, they feel like they deserved to win this game," Salberg said. "We gotta be ready."
Colin Bell is a Senior Staff Writer and the Baseball Beat Writer for the Central Florida Future.