Feb. 19, 2005
ORLANDO - UCF pitchers Mike Billek and Brian Brooks combined to limit No. 20 Notre Dame to one run on five hits to lead No. 30 UCF past the Fighting Irish 2-1 before 1,506 fans Saturday afternoon at Jay Bergman Field. The seventh-largest crowd in Jay Bergman Field history witnessed UCF defeat Notre Dame for the first time since 1979. A day after Notre Dame scored 18 runs in its season-opener, UCF's pitching staff held Notre Dame's batters in check all day long.
The win moves UCF's record to 7-1 on the season while Notre Dame dropped to 1-1.
"This was a well pitched game by both teams today," stated UCF head coach Jay Bergman. "It was a NCAA Tournament atmosphere here today with a great crowd on a beautiful day."
Billek pitched brilliantly, but was left with a no-decision after going 6.1 innings. The junior right-hander yielded four hits and one run with six strikeouts for the Golden Knights.
UCF looked to jump on the Fighting Irish early, but the Golden Knights stranded six runners in scoring position over the first four innings. On the day, UCF left 10 runners on base.
"I thought after the first few innings today was just not our day," added Bergman. "But, if you pitch and play defense, you will be in every ball game and we did that today."
After squandering potential scoring opportunities in the third and fourth innings, the Golden Knights broke into the scoring column in the fifth inning when sophomore Matt Horwath, making his second start of the season, drove in the game's first run with a single up the middle.
Horwath saved a run in the top of the fifth in the field as he made a diving stop at second base to keep the Irish runner at third base.
Notre Dame finally got to Billek in the seventh as the right-hander hit Sean Gaston with a pitch and allowed Gaston second base on a wild pitch. After a sacrifice bunt, UCF turned to its bullpen and Brooks. Ross Brezovsky sent a bouncer over the head of Ryan Bono
at first base to tie the game at one vs. the first batter Brooks faced.
The Golden Knights answered with a run of their own in the home half of the seventh to take a 2-1 lead. Sophomore shortstop Matt Ray singled to start the inning, stole second and third, before Bono drove him in with a double to right-center.
Brooks (2-1) made the lead stand with 2.2 innings of excellent relief. The Oviedo native limited Notre Dame to just one hit on the day en route to the win.
Sophomore Courtney Propst provided a spark atop the lineup for the Knights. The leadoff man reached base safely two times, swiping four bases. As a team, UCF was a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts on the day.
The only serious Irish threat came in the sixth inning when the Irish loaded the bases with two outs. Billek got out of the jam with a line out to Dee Brown in left field to preserve the 1-0 lead. A potential rally in the seventh was snuffed out when Propst instigated a double play from centerfield, doubling off a runner at first to end the inning.
The Golden Knights look to close out the two-game sweep of the Fighting Irish Sunday at Jay Bergman Field. Tim Bascom is scheduled to start for UCF while Jess Stewart will be the starting pitcher for Notre Dame.
Game Notes: UCF evened the all-time series at 3-3 vs. Notre Dame with the win ... the last time UCF defeated Notre Dame was a 6-2 victory in 1979 in Orlando ... Courtney Propst's four stolen bases marked the first time since 2003 UCF had a player with four steals ... the last time UCF had a player swipe four bags was Clay Timpner vs. Pace (3/10/03) ... Junior John-Michael Howell was 2-for-2 off the bench for the Golden Knights ... Howell doubled and singled in his two at-bats ... Despite allowing one run in two combined starts vs. FIU and Notre Dame, Mike Billek has two no-decisions for his efforts.