March 10, 2007
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Game Notes for Sunday, March 11
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Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - At the end of last weekend, the UCF baseball team was wondering when its starting pitchers would come around. One week later and it has seen four different pitchers have quality outings, as sophomore Mitch Houck struck out 10 batters in 7.0 innings to give the Golden Knights (10-9) their fourth-straight victory, defeating Massachusetts (0-2) Saturday, 5-2. The win guaranteed UCF of claiming its first three-game series of the year, and also moved the Black and Gold over the .500 mark for the first time.
"We are getting the hits when it matters and we are pitching great right now," said Houck, who fell one strikeout short of his career-high. "That's four games in a row where we have had good quality starts. I just wanted to keep going (after the seventh inning). I'm just one of those guys where you really have to rip me out because I want to win so badly. I would have went nine if they let me. But they took me out at the right time."
In UCF's longest outing by a starter this season, Houck (1-3) held the Minutemen to just one run on three hits. The lefty's 10 strikeouts marked the third time in four games that a starter posted double-digit strikeout totals. Justin Weiss retired the final four batters of the game to earn his fourth save of the year.
Chris Duffy continued his recent outburst, going 3-for-3 with a RBI. The third baseman extended his hitting streak to seven games to boost his average to .373. Before the streak, Duffy was hitting .125 on the season.
It only took nine pitches, but UCF was quick in loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first against freshman righty Jared Freni, who was making his first appearance in a collegiate uniform. Tyson Auer kicked things off with an infield single, Chadd Hartman walked and Kiko Vazquez was hit by a pitch. After being down in the count 0-2, Steve Stropp delivered with a sacrifice fly to right to make it 1-0. Duffy then popped one down the line in left that was just out of the reach of both the shortstop and left fielder to refill the bags, but Matt Horwath struck out and Ryan Richardson lined out to center to help Freni escape with only one run on the board.
The Knights came right back in the next stanza, plating two runs to jump out to a 3-0 advantage. Eric Kallstrom immediately walked on four pitches, Dwayne Bailey smoked a single into center and each advanced a base on a passed ball. A ground out by Auer brought in Kallstrom, and Hartman recorded a sacrifice fly to right, allowing Bailey to touch home.
Massachusetts went four innings before tagging Houck for a run in the fifth. Mike Donato stood at first with one out following a fielder's choice, and reached second on a ground out. Ryan Franczek came through with a two-out RBI single to center to cut the UCF lead to 3-1.
After a quiet sixth inning, Duffy provided UCF with another run in the seventh against reliever Mitchell Eilenberg, drilling his third base hit into center to score Hartman from second with two away. UMass stormed right back when Kyle Maulbetsch came on in relief. A leadoff to Franczek proved costly as he later crossed home plate on an error and a double-play ball. An infield single by Bryan Adamski that took a bad hop at third made the Knights go to the pen again in favor of Brian Brooks. The lefty loaded the bases on a single and a walk, which forced Weiss to enter the game. Weiss fell behind in the count to MacDonald, 3-1, but after a called strike on the inside corner, MacDonald sent a grounder to third that Duffy scooped up and threw in the dirt but Vazquez easily handled the throw for the third out.
Bailey did not want UMass to get any closer, as he notched a RBI triple in the bottom of the eighth, scoring Richardson for UCF's fifth run of the contest. It was the junior's first triple as a Golden Knight. Up 5-2, Weiss closed the door in the ninth to seal the victory.
UCF and UMass wrap up the three-game series Sunday at 1 p.m. at Jay Bergman Field. For the latest news and information on the Golden Knights, tickets or apparel log on to www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF athletics.
WP: Mitch Houck (1-3), 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K
LP: Jared Freni (0-1), 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
SV: Justin Weiss (4), 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
- UCF had two four-game winning streaks last season, but the last time the Knights won five-straight occurred from April 9-17, 2005, when they were victorious in seven-consecutive outings.
- Saturday marked the sixth-straight game that leadoff man Tyson Auer either recorded a base hit or a run scored.
- Mitch Houck became the first UCF pitcher this season to throw at least 100 pitches in a game (he finished with 105 pitches, 62 strikes).
- For Kyle Maulbetsch, it was his second appearance as a pitcher this year. As a position player, he has seen action in eight games with three starts.
- Tyson Auer, Ryan Richardson and Dwayne Bailey each had two hits on the day, as UCF had 10 hits compared to UMass' five.