ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) – Opening Knight 2013 went according to plan as the UCF baseball team earned its fifth-straight win in season-openers with a 7-1 defeat of Siena in front of 2,017 fans at the UCF baseball complex. It was the 12th crowd over 2,000 fans in program history, and seventh since last year.
Continuing to stay unblemished on Opening Knight, head coach Terry Rooney was overall pleased with his team’s performance as well as the fan support inside the stadium.
“This opening weekend, my focus is that we play fundamentally sound,” Rooney said. “I thought that we did that. Two big things come to mind is that I thought Ben Lively settled in and pitched very well. We also got some big two-out RBIs. That’s what wins games--that’s what wins championships.”
“From a fan standpoint, it was a great opening night. Two thousand fans here and we really appreciate it.”
The series continues tomorrow with sophomore Eric Skoglund on the mound for the Knights. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m.
The night began with the unveiling of the brand new renderings for Phase II expansion set to begin in July. The 3D-renderings video feature was followed up with the ceremonial first pitches by Joe Rogers, Roman Madrid, Darnell Sweeney, Ronnie Richardson and D.J. Hicks. The five MLB draftees were back as a part of their induction into the Tradition Room.
Going into the evening, Ben Lively knew he’d be counted on heavily in 2013, and he delivered in his first outing of the season. The Gulf Breeze native went six innings while fanning five Saints and scattering five hits. Dating back to 2012, Lively owns a sub-2.00 ERA in his last seven starts.
Offensively, UCF didn’t waste any time putting up its first runs of the year. JoMarcos Woods, on his way to a perfect 4-for-4 evening with three runs scored, led the inning off with a single to center while Ryan Breen coaxed a walk. After aggressive base-running put the duo in scoring position following an Erik Hempe fly out, last season’s hits leader, Chris Taladay, came through in the clutch once again with a two-RBI single up the middle.
The senior infielder from Windermere ended the night with a 4-for-5 line and three RBI after totaling just one four-hit effort a year ago.
In the third and fourth frames, the Knights tallied five runs on seven hits, including five base-knocks in the fourth. It was a senior bash in the two innings as Breen, Hempe, Taladay and Jeramy Matos each drove in a run, including three two-out RBI, to extend the lead to 7-1, and knock Siena starter Justin Brantley from the contest.
After Lively’s night on the mound was done, sophomore Harrison Hukari took over and picked up where the junior left off, giving up just two hits and no runs. Rookie Zac Favre made his collegiate debut and shut the door on the Saints with a strikeout to end the game.
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