ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Behind a season-high 16 hits and three home runs, the No. 19 UCF baseball team clinched its first series victory over East Carolina Saturday with a 10-6 triumph at the UCF baseball complex. The Knights (19-5, 2-0) overcame two deficits in the ballgame to secure the win.
Senior Alex Friedrich (4-for-5) and juniors Ryan Breen (3-for-3) and D.J. Hicks (2-for-3) paced the UCF offense as they combined for nine hits , six RBI and a home run each. Junior Chris Matulis pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief with a career-high seven strikeouts for his third win of the year.
"Today was really a solid team effort in a lot of ways," UCF head coach Terry Rooney said after the game. "Offensively, it was the best we've swung the bat in quite some time and I am pleased with that. The win on Saturday is great and now we put ourselves in position for championship Sunday."
The Knights will look to finish off the Pirates (15-7, 0-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday in front of a national audience with the game being broadcasted live on 11 Fox Sports Net affiliates.
UCF started the afternoon trailing ECU, 4-0, in the second inning as Matulis relieved starter Ben Lively with two outs. He was able to get the Knights out of a bases-loaded jam on a first-pitch ground ball.
The deficit would be short lived as UCF's bats came to life with two outs and men on second and third the next half-inning. The Knights turned in clutch swings as Darnell Sweeney sent a shot through the left side to score Breen and Travis Shreve (2-for-4). That would bring up Hicks who took a 1-0 offering deep to center field for his first home run since March 10 against UMass to tie the game at 4-4. The Altamonte Springs native now owns a league-best 35 RBI.
After a 15-minute rain delay in the top of the third, the Knights took the lead in the bottom-half, 5-4, as Friedrich led-off with a bunt single and Breen punished the first pitch he saw off the top of the fence down the left-field line for his fourth double of the season.
After ECU plated a run in the fourth and fifth innings, UCF responded in the bottom-half of inning No. 5 with two solo homers to take the lead for good.
Friedrich blasted a 2-1 pitch over the left-field fence for his second homer of the year while Breen ripped a 2-0 fastball over the right-field bullpen for his first round-tripper of 2012.
In the seventh, Friedrich continued his tear at the plate when he smacked the first pitch he saw into the right-field gap to score Hicks and give him his second-career triple. He finished the contest just a double shy of the cycle.
The Knights would add a pair of security runs in the eighth behind RBI singles by Sweeney and third baseman Chris Taladay (3-for-5). Junior righty Roman Madrid worked a flawless 1 1/3 innings for his first-career save as a Knight.
News & Notes:
-Shreve extended his hitting streak to seven games with his 2-for-4 performance
-The defensive plays of the game came in the top of the third and seventh innings:
-Hicks showed off his glove in the top of the third as he dove to his left to and made a fine stab at a one-hopper that was ripped down the right-field line and took it back to the bag himself for the out
-In the seventh, Richardson snagged a fly ball in center, spun, and fired a rocket to Taladay to at third who applied the tag on ECU's Zach Wright for the double play.
-UCF baseball alumni enjoyed the 10-6 victory from the right-field deck after a full day that included a golf scramble and barbeque