UCF makes early exit from C-USA tournament
Published: Sunday, May 29, 2011
Updated: Sunday, May 29, 2011 18:05
UCF will have to wait until Monday to learn its NCAA postseason fate after an early exit from the Conference USA Championship tournament Friday.
The Knights left 11 runners on base and took advantage of only one in 11 scoring opportunities in their 4-2 loss to No. 1 seed Rice Friday in the C-USA Championship tournament. Rice went on to defeat the No. 6 seed Houston 4-3 in extra innings for the C-USA title on Saturday.
After winning two straight C-USA postseason games for the first time since joining the conference in 2006, UCF (38-21) fell just short of reaching the title game.
"It was a great college baseball game," head coach Terry Rooney said in a release. "Both pitchers battled back and forth but, at the end of the day, they got a couple bigger two-out hits than we did. That was the difference in the game."
Knights starter Chase Bradford allowed six hits and four earned runs in 4-2/3 innings of work. Despite Johnny Sedlock's 3-1/3 innings of one-hit relief, the Knights were not able to come back.
UCF opened the scoring in the first inning when Ronnie Richardson and Beau Taylor each reached base on errors and a D.J. Hicks single brought Richardson home, but the Knights left two on as the next three batters were retired.
Rice quickly took the lead in the bottom of the first when Bradford gave up a leadoff double and a walk. With two outs, Craig Manuel singled in both runners.
Hicks picked up his second RBI when he grounded out in the third to bring home Richardson, who scored both of UCF's runs and doubled to start the inning.
The tie score didn't last long after Manuel earned a free pass against Bradford, eventually scoring the Owls a run. J.T. Chargois' solo shot in the fifth put Rice up by two.
Ryan Breen went 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles, but the Knights never capitalized.
"We feel very fortunate that although our C-USA tournament is over, that we are on our way to the NCAA postseason," Rooney said.
The Knights will find out where they are headed on Monday at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN when the field of 64 is announced during the NCAA Baseball Tournament Selection Show. The Knights also put in a bid to host a regional.
Hicks, Griffin earn C-USA tournament accolades
Designated hitter D.J. Hicks and first baseman Jonathan Griffin were voted in to the Conference USA All-Tournament team, marking the first time that multiple Knights received the accolade in C-USA postseason history.
During the tournament, Hicks averaged .417 with three RBI and two runs scored. Griffin smashed two home runs in the tournament, driving in six runs and scoring five.