Junior outfielder Eli Putnam had seven RBI's, redshirt senior outfielder Sam Tolleson hit his first homerun since April of 2014 and junior right-handed pitcher Juan Pimentel pitched five strong shutout innings while striking out six as the Knights defeated the Cornell Big Red 16-0 Sunday afternoon at Jay Bergman Field.
Head coach Terry Rooney took this as nothing but a good thing in the stepping stone to preparing for conference play that will start in the coming weeks.
"The guys came out today with a great approach," Rooney said. "If you look at where we were with Tallahassee, you got to stay with it. I think we did some great things on Wednesday in Tallahassee. We got better. To me, it's not just about the wins. It's about if we are getting better and we have a lot of contributions that guys made."
After beating Cornell in the other two outings thanks to strong performances from the pitching staff and the starting nine, including junior infielder Austin Griffin who knocked out his third grand slam of the season in Saturday's game, the Knights came out today with a quick start leading to a series sweep.
After scoring three runs in the first inning and forcing the exit of Big Red pitcher Peter Lannoo early on, the game was relatively quiet up until the fourth inning. The Knights put up seven runs to make it 10-0 by the end of the fourth thanks to a three-run shot far beyond the left field fence from Tolleson. Putnam then knocked a two-RBI double down the left field line to give the pitching staff more cushion room.
"Everyone had a great day hitting today," Putnam said. "It was a boost in confidence. It is about our approach, like the two-strike approach. We're able to have a little bit of power while putting the barrel on the ball."
Forcing six pitchers from the Cornell staff to see action on the mound Sunday afternoon, Rooney had no problem making some changes himself and letting younger players get some playing time and experience. Together as a whole, the UCF pitching staff on Sunday comprised of six pitchers, collected 12 strikeouts, allowed five hits, six walks and gave up no runs.
"I think Juan did a nice job. I took him out after five innings because he was on short rest," Rooney said.
Meanwhile at the plate, the Knights saw 13 different players get an at bat today. The Knights tallied 20 hits and eight walks, utilizing perfectly placed hits throughout game. With several long ball hits, there were also numerous bloopers gently dropped into right and left field for base hits that kept the early innings going.
Pimentel earned his first win of the season as the Knights (15-11) will travel to Jacksonville for a 6:00 p.m. game on Tuesday before opening conference play next weekend.
Evan Abramson is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. You can follow him on Twitter at @Evan_Abramson and email him at EvanA@centralfloridafuture.com.