ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Against one of its oldest rivals, the No. 13 UCF baseball team had no trouble finishing the season sweep of Bethune-Cookman Wednesday night in a 6-2 victory at the UCF baseball complex. The Knights (28-7) have now won their last nine over the Wildcats (20-14) and lead the all-time series, 71-14.
Six runs were plenty of support for the UCF pitching staff that was headed by rookie Garrett Nuss who earned his second win of the year in his first-career start. The Sorrento native went three innings and allowed just one hit and recorded a strikeout while working on a pitch count.
Eight of the nine starters in the lineup recorded a hit for the Knights as Chris Taladay paced the offense with a 2-for-4 game that included his second homer of the season. National RBI leader, D.J. Hicks, added to his total with a run-scoring double to give him 49 on the year.
"It was a solid win over a good Bethune-Cookman team," UCF head coach Terry Rooney said after the game. "Garrett Nuss continued to do what he's been doing and got us off to a good start. To start your first game is a big deal, and he did a good job."
The Knights, 7-2 in Conference USA, will head to Hattiesburg for a weekend series with Southern Miss beginning Friday night at 7 p.m. EDT.
UCF wasted no time getting the bats going Wednesday with three runs on four hits in the first inning. The tone was set early after Darnell Sweeney took the first pitch of the game through the left side for a hit. Hicks added to his RBI total with a double down the left-field line to score Sweeney. Alex Frieidrich (2-for-4, 1 RBI) and Ryan Breen (2-for-3, 1 RBI) also drove in runs during the frame on singles.
In the third, Friedrich kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard with a laser throw home to the catcher, Breen, who tagged out the runner coming around from second after a base hit. It was the fourth outfield-assist for the University High School product this season.
The Knights responded to that defensive gem in the bottom-half of the inning as Taladay sent a rocket out of the park onto the right-field deck for his second homer of 2012 to push the lead to 4-0.
The Knights, who entered the game hitting .313 with two outs, executed clutch hitting once more in the bottom of the fifth with two down. Breen coaxed a walk and advanced to third on Jeramy Matos double inside the third-base line. JoMarcos Woods, Sunday's hero, was able to drive home both runners after beating out a grounder to the shortstop.
In relief of Nuss, fellow rookie Eric Skoglund and senior Brian Brown both tossed two scoreless frames apiece while each struck out a pair of batters. Jimmy Reed pitched the eighth and Roman Madrid shut the door in the ninth with two punchouts in his 18th appearance of the year.
News & Notes:
-Ronnie Richardson got the night off after starting the first 34 games of the season and all 62 games in 2011
-UCF has now hit 25 homers in 2012 which is top-30 in the nation
-In the win, UCF dropped its team ERA down from 2.88 to 2.86, tops in C-USA
-With the homer and single, Taladay now owns 18 multi-hit games this year
-UCF's 4-5-6 hitters in Taladay, Friedrich and Breen are currently riding five-game hit streaks