The UCF offense will cool down for no one.
On the back of five home runs, the No. 6 Knights (21-6), who have scored the most runs in the nation this season, defeated No. 15 Houston (18-8), 9-2 on Friday night.
The game was the first conference matchup of the season for either team. Last season, Houston beat UCF three out of four games, including one in the AAC Tournament.
"We feel like we're one of the best teams in the country, one of the best teams in the conference," said senior outfielder JoMarcos Woods. "We feel like we didn't get it done last year so we're trying to take it over this year."
Both teams came in to the game expecting its starting pitcher to dominate. The two starters, Andrew Lantrip for Houston and Cre Finfrock for UCF, were a combined 10-1. Lantrip entered the game with a 1.73 ERA, FInfrock had a 2.62.
Finfrock did his part, going seven innings, allowing two runs on just three hits and striking out four.
"Cre's got special stuff and he's a special arm, he's a guy that's pitching on Friday night for a reason," said Schnall. "Tonight he came out and responded in a big way." Lantrip, however, was never able to get into a groove. UCF knocked him around for seven runs, six earned, before he exited with two outs in the third.
The game started after an hour and a half rain delay, but got going quickly. In the first two innings both teams went back and forth with long balls on a night where the wind was blowing hard to the outfield.
Houston scored one in the first on a solo shot. UCF hit two of its own in the bottom of the inning.
Houston hit another in the top of the second, and UCF hit another in the bottom of the frame. In total their were five solo home runs in the first two innings.
UCF had also put up a run on a sac fly in the first, and led 4-2.
Then, in the third, the Knights lead increased when JoMarcos Woods hit a slow ground ball to the right side with two outs and the bases loaded. The Cougars' first baseman fielded the ball, but the flip to the pitcher was mishandled and two UCF runs crossed the plate to make the score 6-2.
It was again Woods expanding the lead in the seventh. His second home run of the game increased the lead to 9-2.
Woods now has four home runs this season after not hitting one last year.
"I'm feeling pretty good at the plat right now, that wind definitely helped me out at the plate," said Woods. "A team like us, we hit a lot of home runs, and you see the wind like that you just try to put it in the air and let the wind do its job."
Game two of the series is tomorrow at 4 pm, and game three is Sunday at 1 pm.
Colin Bell is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.