Another big game at the plate from junior Austin Griffin gave the Knights the runs they needed to complete the sweep in their third game against LIU Brooklyn and the win they needed to secure a 10-7 record on Sunday afternoon at Jay Bergman Field.
After the Blackbirds plated two runs in the top of the fifth inning to give them a 4-3 lead, the Knights put runners on to respond in the bottom half of the inning.
With a walk, an error and a hit batter, the Knights loaded the bases for Griffin to start the fifth. He worked the count to two and two before he found a pitch he liked and launched it over the wall in left-center field for his second grand slam of the season.
“My teammates keep putting me in good situations and I keep coming through and it is really a shout out to those guys over there,” Griffin said. “This weekend it really came together everybody started swinging it well.”
The home run was the second for Griffin who has been seeing the ball well lately and is leading the team with 22 RBIs, five of them coming from Sunday in the 12-7 victory.
The Blackbirds did not go away though as they battled back late in the game. A leadoff walk got things started for the Blackbirds in the eighth as they were able to score three runs to make the score 9-7.
Despite the hiccup in the eighth, the Knights again responded in the bottom half scoring three runs of their own to regain their five run lead.
“We have got to clean up our bullpen,” head coach Terry Rooney said. “Right now I am still trying to figure out what those matchups are, and guys are working hard but that is one area that we have just got to get better at is out of the bullpen.”
UCF started Trent Thompson on the mound but the junior left the game after throwing just one inning and allowing two runs. The short start forced the Knights to go to the bullpen early and use a total of seven pitchers to pick up the win.
A bright spot out of the pen was sophomore Eric Hepple who earned the save by pitching the final inning and a third of the game while allowing only one hit.
Next up for the Knights will be a showdown with the Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the UCF Baseball Complex.
Matthew Saunders is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @ClassicSmit or email him at MatthewS@CentralFloridaFuture.com