ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - In its fifth game in six days, the No. 19 UCF baseball team brought out the brooms Sunday, sweeping Siena after a 15-2 throttling on a windy afternoon from the UCF baseball complex. Junior first baseman D.J. Hicks (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) launched two home runs to right field for his second two-homer game of 2012, and fifth of his career.
The preseason All-American has lived up to the hype so far this year. Through 12 games, he sports a .395 batting average with 23 RBI, five homers and a .500 on-base percentage.
With the help of Hicks' all-around power, and the team's collective .323 batting average, UCF head coach Terry Rooney is pleased with the squad's 53-run week and sweep of Siena.
"Anytime, no matter who you are playing, if you can be in the position to get the sweep is great," Rooney said postgame. "Probably 75 percent of the weekends are going to be split, so we call it `Championship Sunday.' Obviously we did a good job overall in a lot of different aspects to win the series and sweep like we did. I am very proud of the guys' effort."
UCF wasted no time Sunday pouncing on Siena starter Rick Morales who had trouble locating the strike zone. He started the game off hitting Darnell Sweeney (Mirarmar, Fla.) and walking Ronnie Richardson (Eagle Lake, Fla.). After tossing eight-straight balls, Hicks was all over Morales' 3-1 fast ball, sending a no-doubter over the right-field deck for his fourth home run of 2012.
In the second, senior Travis Shreve (Auburn, Wash.) reached after being plunked by Morales. After advancing to second on a Siena error, he stole third and later stole home after Sweeney got out of a pickle between second and first base. It was the first steal of home in nearly two years when former Knight Shane Brown did it against Maine.
Sweeney extended his hitting streak to nine games when he jumped on the first pitch of the fourth inning and sent it over the right fielder off the wall for his second triple of 2012. Richardson would drive him in with a single on the ground past the shortstop for his eighth RBI of the year.
Sunday's starter, freshman Eric Skoglund (Sarasota, Fla.), faced his only troubles of the day in the top of the fifth in his first-career start. He got out of the frame giving up just an unearned run due to a great defensive play by Richardson. With Saints on second and third, Siena's Vincent Citro flew out to Richardson who was charging in on the play. After the catch, he fired a dart on line to catcher Ryan Breen, who was bulled over by William Cardona coming from third base, and held onto the ball to get the Knights out of the jam.
UCF would add seven more runs to the board in the fifth after sending 10 men to the plate. The inning was highlighted by a two home runs, including a three-run shot by Sweeney into the right-field bullpen to score Shreve and junior Nick Carrillo (Glendale, Ariz.). Since his walk-off hit last week against Boston College, Sweeney is batting .400 with five RBI and a .520 on-base percentage.
Hicks followed two batters later with his second towering shot to the right-field parking lot to continue the seven-run inning.
Freshman Garrett Nuss (Sorrento, Fla.), sophomore Gregg Cooke (Tampa, Fla.), rookie Harrison Hukari (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and junior Jimmy Reed (Spokane, Wash.) would all put up spotless innings in relief of Skoglund who earned his second win of 2012.
UCF now turns its focus to No. 8 Florida State who comes to town for the first time since 1988 for a two-game set on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both contests will be at 6:30 p.m., with live coverage on 740-AM The Game.
News and Notes
-Chris Taladay finished the afternoon going 4-4 and leads the team with a .408 batting average
-Richardson, Friedrich and Sweeney have reached safely in all 12 games during the 2012 season
-D.J. Hicks extended his hitting streak to six games with his two homers
-UCF has scored 20 runs during the seventh inning this year, including 14 in its last three home games combined
-UCF put up 10-plus hit games in all five contests this week
-Utility infielder Spencer Haynes, who replaced Shreve late in the game, came up with a diving play to his left at second to get the Siena runner with a fine throw to first for a defensive gem