ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Looking to start its six-game homestand off on the right foot, the UCF baseball team did just that with a 6-4 victory in the first of two midweek contests against Florida A&M. The Knights (10-7) and Rattlers (1-16) will battle once again Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
Seniors Chris Taladay (2-for-4) and Erik Hempe (1-for-4, 2-run HR) were able to extend their respective hit streaks to 10 and nine games in the victory while redshirt sophomore RHP Spencer Davis earned his second victory of the year in three innings of relief with five strikeouts.
"At the end of the day we have to get a little bit tougher offensively," head coach Terry Rooney said after the game. "I'm going to look for a bunch of guys tomorrow who are going to show a little bit of confidence when they are at the plate. We need to get it going offensively, and I'm looking for that tomorrow."
After being set down in order to start the game, the Knights' offense finally broke through on RHP Kelvin Singletary in the bottom of the fourth when Hempe mashed a 1-1 pitch well over the left-field fence to drive home James Vasquez (1-for-2, 1 BB) on his second home run of the year.
UCF once again left the yard in the fifth when Parker Webster teed off on the first pitch he saw, sending the lining shot over the left-field fence for his first-career home run as a Knight.
The Rattlers would eventually strike in the top of the sixth on starting LHP Brian Adkins after back-to-back singles set them up for a 2-run base-knock followed by an RBI double down the right-field line to tie the game at 3-all.
In the seventh, the Knights would take the lead for good after Austin Johnston (1-for-3, 1 RBI) led off the frame with his fifth double of the year. Taking advantage of FAMU walking the bases loaded, centerfielder JoMarcos Woods (1-for-4, 2 RBI) came through with a clutch two-run single with two outs to left field to score Ryan Breen and Webster.
FAMU would not go down without a fight, however, as they plated one run in the eighth prior to Davis cracking off a buckling breaking ball for strike three to get pinch-hitter Aaron Smith looking while leaving runners on the corners.
UCF padded its lead in the eighth after Taladay led off the frame with his second hit of the night and advanced to third after stealing base No. 3 of the year, followed by moving 90 feet further on a wild pitch. Fellow senior Johnston did his duty be sending a fly ball to right for the sacrifice fly and the 6-4 lead.
Davis would close out the contest in his third inning of work by getting the Rattlers to strikeout twice prior to a game-ending grounder to shortstop.
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