ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Three UCF relievers hurled six one-hit innings Saturday, and the Knights wrapped up a 5-4 win over UMass by throwing out the potential game-tying run at the plate.
UCF freshman Garrett Nuss (Sorrento, Fla.) struck out five in four innings to earn his first career victory. Roman Madrid (Victoria, Texas) struck out two Minutemen in the eighth, and Joe Rogers (Winter Haven, Fla.) picked up his third save while finishing UCF's 12th victory of the season.
Head coach Terry Rooney turned to his bullpen in the fourth inning with the game tied, 4-4. Thanks to the exceptional relief pitching, the Knights only needed one run in the final six innings. They got it when D.J. Hicks (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) homered to right in the bottom of the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
"You look at Garrett Nuss coming in (in the fourth). That is probably the story of the game for me," Rooney said postgame. "Two freshmen (Nuss and Eric Skoglund) continuing to get better in a tight one-run game. Both of those guys complimented each other nicely and they will continue to get better."
UCF will try for a series sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday at the UCF Baseball Complex. The Knights (12-4) won Friday's game 16-4 after an hour-and-a-half rain delay.
Although pitching dominated the final seven innings Saturday, solid hitting and poor fielding led to a lot of scoring in the first two.
Three consecutive singles gave UMass (0-2) a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and then UCF responded with four runs in the bottom of the first. Alex Friedrich's (Orlando, Fla.) two-run double capped off the inning and increased his series RBI total to eight. Friedrich drove in a career-best six runs in Friday's game and now owns 10 doubles on the season.
Junior catcher Ryan Breen (Palm City, Fla.) and freshman James Vasquez (Palm City, Fla.) each drove in first-inning runs with singles.
UMass scored an unearned three runs in the second with help from three UCF errors, and then the pitchers from both teams took control of the game.
UCF starter Eric Skoglund (Sarasota, Fla.) pitched a scoreless third frame before turning the game over to the bullpen. Minutemen starter Dennis Torres gave up only one earned run - Hicks' homer - in 7 2/3 innings.
UMass' only threat in the game's final seven innings came in the ninth. UMass' leadoff batter, Rich Graef, reached on an error and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Graef tried to score from second after Anthony Serino beat out a single to third, but Hicks threw him out at home.