BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UCFAthletics.com) – The UCF baseball team began its final season in Conference USA with an emphatic 8-0 win over UAB on a chilly evening from Young Memorial Field. Junior RHP Ben Lively rode the 13-hit outburst from his offense for his fifth win of the year by tossing eight-shutout frames.
Due to the threat of rain in the area, Saturday’s contest has been pushed up 30 minutes to 2:30 p.m. EDT. Lefty Chris Matulis will get the ball in his second start of the season and look to give the Knights (15-9, 1-0) a 2-0 lead in the series.
Having gone no less than seven innings since Feb. 22, Lively was able to scatter seven UAB hits and strand eight Blazers (9-12, 0-1) on the base paths in the victory. The Gulf Breeze native also upped his strikeout total to 51 on the year after fanning nine more in the contest.
“Tonight was probably the best the dugout has been all season,” said Lively, who’s ERA is now at a minuscule 0.41. “I was relaxed and felt good tonight. I just locked down the people on base. My mindset is that they aren’t going to score, and I just went with that.”
Aiding in Lively’s bid for his fifth win was an offensive lineup that saw five batters register multiple-hit performances, including sophomores James Vasquez (3-for-4, 2 R, 2 BB) and Tommy Williams (3-for-4, 1 BB). The shortstop hitting from the nine-hole finished just a homer shy of the cycle.
UCF was able to strike first with an Erik Hempe (1-for-3, 4 RBI) SAC fly to score JoMarcos Woods (2-for-5, 1 RBI) who coaxed a lead-off walk and moved to third on a Vasquez single.
Left fielder Parker Webster (2-for-5, 2 RBI) made his presence felt in the top of the fifth with a two-run, two-out double to push the Knights lead to 3-0. In his last eight games, the Sandy, Utah, native is batting .379 with eight RBI.
Lively set down 10 straight at one point prior to the Blazers putting runners on in the sixth, seventh and eighth frames, but the 6-foot-4 righty was able to buckle down and exit the frames unscathed.
UCF loaded the bases three times in the game and finally made the Blazers pay in the eighth when Hempe took the first pitch he saw from new reliever Adam Lau deep over the centerfielder’s head to clear the bags for his first-career triple at UCF.
After 3B Chris Taladay (2-for-4, 1 RBI) and Woods both notched a run-scoring single and double, respectively, freshman Tyler Martin finished off the shutout with a perfect ninth inning.
Ten Voucher packages are now on sale for only $50. Select the games that you want to attend for a discounted price. Voucher packages and single-game tickets can be purchased by calling 407-UCF-1000 or visit the baseball tickets page. Stay up-to-date on all the latest news by visiting UCFAthletics.com and following the team on Twitter (@UCF_Baseball) and Facebook.