ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The No. 18 UCF baseball team was unable to overcome No. 8 Florida State's seven-run sixth inning Tuesday night as it dropped the first of a two-game set, 7-6. The second-largest crowd in school history, 2,934 fans, watched the in-state rivals' first matchup at the UCF baseball complex since 1988.
The two teams will return to the diamond tomorrow evening for UCF's Pink in the Park night to raise awareness for breast cancer. Bright House Sports Network will air the game live with the first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
"What a great college baseball game," UCF head coach Terry Rooney said after meeting with his squad. "It was two top-20 teams in a one-run game all the way down to the ninth inning. Obviously, from our end we had that inning where we gave up seven runs and you can't do that against great teams.
"I'm proud of our effort," Rooney added. "Our guys battled hard and fought in there. They kept bouncing back, but (FSU) took advantage in that one inning and that was the difference in the game."
Despite the seven-run inning, the Knights (10-3) put up eight scoreless frames on the evening and were led by junior Brian Adkins (Orlando, Fla.), who went 5 1/3 innings in his second-career start against the Seminoles (10-1).
Adkins mixed speeds well all night, executing a beautiful change-up to get a swinging strikeout of Sherman Johnson to end top of the third. In the fourth, he threw six-straight balls, but came up with a huge strikeout of James Ramsey who was batting .587 at the time of the at-bat. He escaped the inning by leaving a runner in scoring position while getting a groundout to third and popup to second.
"I noticed the place was jumping," Adkins said after the game. "We are hoping for the same thing tomorrow and a different outcome."
UCF opened the scoring in the bottom of the third as junior Ronnie Richardson (Eagle Lake, Fla.) singled through the left side to score Travis Shreve (Auburn, Wash.) from second after he stole his fifth base of the year. Junior utility player Chris Taladay (Windermere, Fla.) continued his clutch hitting with a two-out, first-pitch single through the right side to score Richardson from second.
After a Breen single to put men on first and second, freshman James Vasquez battled on a two-strike count and blasted a two-run double off the right fielder's outstretched glove.
In the fifth, Adkins buckled down with runners on first and second and only one out. He was able to blow one by Sean O'Brien on a full count and induced a Johnson fly out to Carrillo in left to get out of the jam.
The sixth inning was a bumpy one for the Knights as FSU scored seven runs, including four unearned runs, on four hits. Junior Roman Madrid (Victoria, Texas) relieved Adkins with one out and one run already in. He could not overcome two UCF fielding errors and a tough call at home on a Seminoles' squeeze bunt that scored FSU's Justin Gonzalez. Eleven Seminoles batted in the inning.
UCF wouldn't go away quietly, however. The Knights notched a pair of two-out RBI -- the 24th of the year for Hicks and the second of the night for Taladay, who went 3-for-4. The duo laced a pair of singles through the right side to draw the home team within a run. On the year, the Knights have been especially clutch in the seventh, scoring 22 runs during the frame.
The eighth inning featured more drama as UCF junior southpaw Jimmy Reed (Spokane, Wash.) induced a groundout to get out of his own two-out bases loaded jam. He returned in the ninth to retire the side in order to keep the Knights within one heading to the ninth.
There would be no ninth-inning magic for the Knights, as FSU closer Robert Benincasa set UCF's top of the lineup down in order for his third save of the year.
News and Notes:
-Hicks extended his hitting streak to seven games with his seventh-inning single
-Richardson has now reached safely in all 13 games this season
-Taladay notched his team-leading seventh multi-hit game with three singles