ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) – Behind the efforts of junior righty Ben Lively and redshirt senior outfielder Erik Hempe, the UCF baseball kicked off the Wawa Weekend Classic with a 7-3 victory over future BIG EAST opponent UConn Friday night in front of 1,702 fans at the baseball complex.
The Knights (3-2) totaled 10 hits on the evening, including a perfect 3-for-3, two-RBI night at the dish for Hempe, and received seven innings of three-hit work from their ace, Lively (2-0).
“Ben Lively pitched like a Friday-night No. 1 starter needs to," head coach Terry Rooney said. "He went toe-toe, pitch-to-pitch with UConn’s starting pitcher who was very good. I told Ben, ‘You’re going to have to do this every Friday when you are playing great teams.’
“We hung in their offensively tonight and continued to have confidence. (We) put together good at-bats and that obviously led to the big inning. Hempe stepped up for us and got a big hit because he is a great player.”
The Knights return to action Saturday night at 6:30 in their first meeting in program history with Texas Tech. All tournament links can be found at the Wawa Weekend Classic page.
In his longest outing since May 5, 2012, Lively didn’t allow a hit from the fourth inning on when the Huskies (1-3) put up their only run of the day on an LJ Mazzilli solo home run.
The Gulf Breeze native totaled 99 pitches on the evening while striking out six Huskies. Lively was aided by great defense all night, including a pick-off of his own to end the first inning. The junior also used fine web gems by Chris Taladay, Austin Johnston (1-for-2, 1 R) and James Vasquez (1-for-4, 2 RBI) to get him through his seven innings of work.
After lying dormant through four innings, the UCF bats exploded in the fifth for six hits and five runs while sending 12 to the plate.
Catcher Ryan Breen (1-for-5, 1 RBI) started the scoring binge with a bases-loaded single to shortstop followed by a monstrous Hempe double over the center fielder’s head to plate both Tommy Williams (1-for-4) and JoMarcos Woods (1-for-3, 1 R, 1 SB), who extended his hitting streak to seven games.
The clutch hitting continued as Vasquez made his presence felt with a two-out, two-run single through the right side followed up by a Parker Webster (1-for-4, 1 RBI) laser to left field that would score Johnston.
UCF capped off its scoring in the bottom of the eighth when designated hitter Jeramy Matos rocketed a 3-1 pitch over the center-field wall for the Knights’ second home run of the season. It was the sixth-career dinger for the Lake Worth native.
Senior LHP Jimmy Reed worked a perfect eighth inning with one strikeout before giving way to freshman Jarrod Petree and redshirt sophomore Spencer Davis who notched the first save of the year for the Knights.
Season tickets can be purchased by calling 407-UCF-1000 or visit the baseball tickets page. Stay up-to-date on all the latest news by visiting UCFAthletics.com and following the team on Twitter (@UCF_Baseball) and Facebook.