April 6, 2007
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Game Notes for Saturday, April 7
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Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - For the second time this season, the UCF baseball team walked away with a victory after trailing heading into its half of the ninth inning. The Knights (17-17, 1-6 Conference USA) were down 4-1 in the ninth with two outs on the board and did not have a runner on base, yet somehow walked away with a 5-4 10-inning victory over Southern Miss (18-13, 1-6) Friday in C-USA action.
Pinch-hitter Tim Russell started the two-out ninth-inning rally with a double and eventually Tyson Auer plated three runs with the bases juiced to send it to extras. In the 10th, the Knights put runners at the corners to set the stage for freshman D.J. Bissell to connect for his first collegiate hit and RBI, locking up the unbelievable victory for the Black and Gold.
Auer, a junior, and Bissell both hail from Longwood, Fla., and attended Lake Mary High School.
"I didn't want to let my teammates down," said Bissell, who entered the game in left in the top of the eighth inning. "I was looking for something on the outer half to drive. I worked back and he threw me a curve ball and I kind of just threw my hands at it. I didn't know it was a hit when I hit it. But the whole team did awesome. Jaager (Good) was lights out, our defense was outstanding and we didn't have any errors. To come back in the ninth was remarkable. We never gave up."
Making his first Friday night start of the year, Good delivered with another dazzling performance, giving up just six hits in 6.0 innings of work. The junior fanned six Golden Eagles and surrendered only one walk. Southern Miss' Ryan Belanger was just as dominate, tossing 6.1 innings of shutout ball with five hits against and five strikeouts.
With a base hit in the third inning, Auer extended his hitting streak to nine games, which tied for the longest by a Golden Knight this year (Chris Duffy had a nine-game streak Feb. 27-March 13). Auer finished 2-for-4, as he and Eric Kallstrom and Kiko Vazquez all notched two hits in the victory.
Each team had a scoring chance early, but Belanger and Good then began to cruise through the midway portion of the game. The Golden Eagles' senior right-hander did not let a Golden Knight reach second from the fourth to the sixth inning. Meanwhile, the UCF righty retired eight-straight before working into series trouble in the seventh.
Southern Miss got the frame going with a double then loaded them up on a bunt single and a walk, Good's only free pass of the game. That forced the Black and Gold to go to the pen, where Brian Brooks for the lefty-lefty match-up with pinch-hitter Luke Adkins. Brooks managed to get Adkins to pop up on the infield, but still needed two more outs. Facing Brian Dozier, Brooks went ahead in the count 0-1 and then received the pitcher's dream, a perfect 6-4-3 double play that allowed UCF to keep the game scoreless.
The Golden Eagles had the same situation in the top of the eighth, loading them up with nobody away. Michael Ewing became the first victim by looking at a slider that painted the outside corner for strike three. Austin Hudson (1-1) came on and on the first pitch, Jody Blount singled to center for the game's first run. But that was all they could bring around as UCF got the second out on a force at home and the third on a soft liner to second.
Now trailing 1-0, Kyle Mills attempted to spark a comeback, ripping a leadoff single to left center in the bottom of the eighth and reached second on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Kallstrom. A ground out to second by Auer pushed Mills to third, and it appeared Vazquez struck out to end the inning. However, he barely got a piece of the 2-2 pitch to stay alive, and took advantage by connecting for a double to deep center field that glanced off Bo Davis' outstretched glove on the warning track to permit UCF to even things out at 1-1.
Southern Miss returned in the ninth and seemed to take full control. A single, sacrifice bunt and intentional walk put two on and Justin Weiss took over for Hudson. But James Ewing drove a RBI single through the left side and on the throw home, he and Trey Sutton both advanced into scoring position. Following a pop-up, Michael Ewing sent a 0-2 pitch into right field to increase the lead to 4-1.
Patrick Ezell was all set to notch the victory, flying through the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth. That was when Russell placed a double to right field and Mills, after falling behind 0-2, worked a walk. Kallstrom loaded the bases on an infield single but the Knights still needed a miracle. Auer provided it, sending a laser to second base where Billy Hartel had no chance to throw out the speedy center fielder. Hartel still tried and wound up throwing it off the fence behind first and into right field. All three runners, including Kallstrom from first base, were waved in and just like that UCF was in extra innings.
Weiss tossed a perfect 10th frame, giving way to the Knights offensive attack. With new reliever JR Ballinger in, Brandon Romans greeted him with a single to right center and Ryan Richardson stroked a 1-2 single into right. With the winning run at third, Bissell stepped in in search of that memorable base hit. On a 2-2 pitch, he popped it down the right-field line where the first baseman, second baseman and right fielder all witnessed the ball drop fair and Romans step on home to send the fans home elated.
The two teams continue the series Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m., while the finale takes place Sunday at 1 p.m. For the latest news and information on the Golden Knights, tickets or apparel log on to www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF athletics.
WP: Justin Weiss (3-0), 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
LP: JR Ballinger (0-1), 0.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
- UCF's other ninth-inning come-from-behind win was at Stetson March 27. Tyson Auer was the hero again by tying it at 3-3 in the ninth and Matt Horwath scored the winning run in the 11th on a wild pitch.
- The Knights win over Southern Miss was their first C-USA victory since April 21, 2006, against UAB.
- Eric Kallstrom batted in the No. 2 hole for the first time this season.
- Freshman Kyle Mills came off the bench in the top of the seventh and made his first collegiate appearance at third base. He scored two runs while going 1-for-1 with a walk at the dish.
- Jaager Good, who owns the team lead in strikeouts for 2007, now has 41 for the season after picking up six against Southern Miss.
- Tim Russell's double in the ninth was his first career extra-base hit.
- The UCF bullpen moved to 8-0 on the year.
- Freshman southpaw Carmine Giardina is scheduled to get the start Saturday, while Southern Miss will send junior right-hander Barry Bowden.