It took 11 innings and three and a half hours, but Florida Atlantic University was able to tack on five runs in the top frame of the last inning at Jay Bergman Field on Tuesday night. A combined display of defensive gems and pitching domination performances by both teams pushed the game into extra innings.
In a non-conference event, after UCF had beaten Memphis in two out of three games to open up AAC play, the Knights (17-14) came home for a single home game before having to go on the road once again. Using a variety of young pitchers, as well as starter, senior left-handed pitcher Harrison Hukari, the Knights were able to limit offensive opportunities throughout the four hour windy game up until the top of the 11th inning. Despite several walks and a couple of bases loaded situations, junior middle infielders Ryan Crile and Kam Gellinger were able to put together several nifty 4-6-3 double plays to stop damage from being done early on in the night.
"We needed to do a staff day. I scripted everything out and Harry [Hukari] was only gonna go two to three innings. We needed to get a lot of guys in," Head coach Terry Rooney said.
Chaos however would eventually come to Jay Bergman when walks, singles and doubles were collected one after another. Not being able to garner a single out until the Owls had already scored two runs, the Knights resorted to putting in their ninth pitcher of the night, usual starter, sophomore right-handed pitcher, Andrew Deramo. Deramo was able to garner a strikeout, and then a double and a couple of wild pitches later, he got out of the 11th with a double play from his middle infielders to end a five-run, game deciding inning.
"We need to have a good practice tomorrow," Rooney said.
Throwing 212 pitches as a group, the Knights pitching staff tallied 11 strikeouts, but walked eight batters and gave up nine hits in the process. Meanwhile, the Owls (22-4), behind sophomore right-handed pitcher David McKay, only saw four different pitchers see action. McKay pitched six innings, giving up only two hits while striking out four and walking one. Through the rest of the game, not another Knight was walked and five batters were struck out. UCF was only able to see three other hits occur in the game after McKay left.
"You win as a team and you lose as a team," Rooney said. "I think our pitchers did a fantastic job. They threw 10 shout-out innings. We turned some unbelievable plays out there defensively just to keep us in that position. Credit FAU's pitchers and they played just a little bit better than us."
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.