Carrying a no-hitter for 6 2/3 innings, junior pitcher Robby Howell was able to shut down the USF Bulls (17-18, 3-5 AAC) Saturday to help the Knights (19-18, 4-4 AAC) get a series evening 4-0 win at Jay Bergman Field.
Howell struck out seven while surrendering only one hit over his seven innings of work. Trent Thompson came on in his usual relief of Howell and finished the day pitching a scoreless two innings to preserve the shutout.
“Yesterday was kind of a gut check,” Howell said. “We had to come in today and kind of prove something and come to the field looking to win a game.”
The Knights took an early lead when they pushed home runs in the second and third innings to give their starter some room to work.
After a leadoff single and a walk in the second, junior Kam Gellinger was able to put down a textbook bunt to move the runners into scoring position. A ball that got away from the USF catcher allowed junior Matt Diorio to score from third.
A single from catcher Anthony George in the same inning would make the lead 2-0.
Junior outfielder Eli Putnam capped off the scoring in the seventh inning when he was able to battle past the fierce wind and send a home run over the left field wall.
“The power has always been there,” Putnam said. “But I am focusing on what we need as a team like where I am batting in the lineup. Some days, the balls are not falling like yesterday. I am always working to stay inside the ball and get base hits."
The Knights got a much needed conference win after dropping a really close series against Houston last weekend.
The Knights will look to win the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Jay Bergman Field.
Matthew Saunders is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. You can follow him on Twitter at @ClassicSmit and email him at MatthewS@CentralFloridaFuture.com