ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Looking for its fourth weekend sweep of the season, No. 19 UCF baseball erased a 4-0 deficit and scored six unanswered runs for a 6-5 win over Harvard Sunday in Orlando. The Knights have won six of their last seven outings to move to 16-5 on the season as Matt Collins picked up the victory in relief by tossing two perfect innings.
Pacing the offense vs. the Crimson (1-12), Alex Friedrich collected a pair of hits to pump his season average up to .347, and D.J. Hicks added two more RBI to his season total of 31. Meanwhile, Ronnie Richardson was hit by a pitch for the 13th time this year.
"I would categorize all of these games as finding a way to win," UCF head coach Terry Rooney said. "That is a good quality of winning teams. At the end of the day, even when you don't play your best baseball, can you find a way to still win and get the job done? We found a way to win three games this weekend."
Harvard broke out to a 4-0 lead through the first two innings vs. lefty Brian Adkins, earning a two-out RBI single by Steven Dill before Jake McGuiggan pounded out a three-run home run in the second inning.
Keeping the Crimson within reach, Adkins retired the first two batters in the fifth but was forced to face a bases-loaded situation with two down. On his next pitch, the southpaw induced Carlton Bailey to ground into a fielder's choice to end the threat. That moment proved to be big as the Knights got on the board in the home half. Generated by an infield single from Friedrich, the inning continued on a balk by starter Tanner Anderson, a fly out off the bat of Nick Carrillo and a RBI groundout by James Vasquez.
The momentum remained with the Knights, highlighted by Collins mowing down Harvard hitters in the sixth and seventh innings. Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, Darnell Sweeney drew a leadoff walk followed by a base hit through the right side by Ryan Breen. Richardson attempted to move the runners up but did one better by bunting for a single, and third baseman McGuiggan threw the ball away to permit Sweeney to score. Hicks then did his job with a RBI groundout to cut the deficit to 4-3, and another groundout pushed Richardson to third. Now with two away, Friedrich immediately ripped a single to center to even things up at 4-4.
Searching for its first lead of the day, UCF grabbed it in the seventh without the benefit of a hit. Taking advantage of another leadoff walk, this time to James Vasquez, UCF eventually loaded the bases on an error and Richardson's HBP. Reliever Jacob Kremers needed just one more out to get out of the jam yet issued free passes to Hicks and Chris Taladay to lift the Knights to a 6-4 advantage.
The game was far from over, though. Facing Roman Madrid in the eighth, Harvard pushed a runner across on a passed ball and had runners at first and second with one down. The right-hander locked up the second out with a three-pitch strikeout of Ethan Ferreira, and got McGuiggan chasing at strike three to keep UCF up 6-5.
That set up another save situation for Joe Rogers, and the Winter Haven product had no trouble picking up his sixth of 2012 by not allowing a ball out of the infield in a 1-2-3 inning. It was Rogers' 23rd save of his career, inching closer to Jason Arnold's record of 27 from 1998-01.
The Black and Gold will now prepare for its third road game of the year when it travels to Tampa to face South Florida Tuesday at 7 p.m. UCF defeated the Bulls in Orlando Feb. 28, 12-1. The Knights will return home next weekend to open Conference USA play, hosting East Carolina Friday-Sunday.