HOUSTON, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - The No. 16 UCF baseball team used a six-run fifth inning in its 9-1 win over Houston to clinch its first series win over the Cougars (10-15, 1-4) since 2009 Saturday night. D.J. Hicks led the Knights' (22-6, 4-1) fifth-inning barrage with a three-run homer, his eighth of 2012.
Junior Chris Matulis utilized the plentiful run support in his return to the weekend rotation and earned his team-leading fourth win in six innings of four-hit ball. He gave up an unearned run in the second while striking out three Cougars to aid the Knights in their fourth-straight road victory.
UCF's 2-4 hitters were clutch all game, combining for two hits apiece and five total RBI. Darnell Sweeney (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and Chris Taladay (2-for-5, 1 RBI) each notched their 11th and 10th multiple hit games, respectively.
"Now we have to forget about both of these wins and move on," Hicks said after the game. "The wins mean something, but you have to forget them and move on to Sunday. That's what we came here to do, and we expect nothing less."
UCF will go for the series sweep Sunday afternoon with senior Ray Hanson (3-0) making his weekend debut.
Early in the game, Matulis ran into trouble in the second inning and had to utilize 29 pitches to get out of the frame. The bases were loaded twice, but the Cougars only managed one run on a 6-4 fielder's choice. He bounced back in the third with a 4-6-3 double play and swinging strikeout, and finished the game throwing a season-high 102 pitches.
The Knights' offense came to life in the fifth after being held to just one hit through four innings by Houston's Jared Ray. UCF saw the ball well during the frame and blasted five hits for six runs while knocking Ray out of the game.
Travis Shreve (1-for-3, 2 RBI) took advantage of a bases loaded situation by sending a 2-0 pitch through the right side to plate Ryan Breen and a sliding Jeramy Matos. Sweeney lined his second hit of the game through the right side to score JoMarcos Woods. That would bring up Hicks who punished a 2-1 fastball over the left-field fence to bring his season RBI total up to 41.
UCF's offense struck again in the seventh with a RBI single through the right side by Taladay and a bases-loaded walk by Breen extend the Knights' lead to 8-1. Sweeney added his 18th RBI of 2012 on a sacrifice fly to right in the eighth to cap the scoring.
Freshman Garrett Nuss relived Matulis in the seventh and the Sorrento native promptly struck out the side. He completed two innings of relief while Ben Lively finished off the Cougars in his second relief appearance of the season.
News & Notes:
-Sweeney extended his hitting streak to six games with a perfectly-executed bunt single in the first
-UCF has now hit a home run in five-straight games
-Entering tonight's games, Hicks' three RBI move him into a tie for first nationally in the category with 41
-The Knights are 5-1 on the road this season