April 12, 2005
ORLANDO - Junior third baseman John-Michael Howell finished 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored to lead No. 26 UCF past USF 10-7 Tuesday night at Jay Bergman Field. Howell's career-high four hits paved the way for UCF's first series victory over their I-4 rivals since the 1999 season when the Golden Knights won two of three from USF. The two teams finish their three-game season series next Tuesday in Tampa.
The win moved UCF to 31-8 on the season, the second-highest win total in the nation behind only Florida State (33-8). The Bulls dropped to 20-18.
"It was a good win for us," commented UCF head coach Jay Bergman. "Our bullpen wavered a little bit, but Dominic came in and shut USF down."
UCF jumped on the Bulls early for five runs in the first. With the bases loaded and two outs, Marshall Bernhard drilled a single to center field that USF center fielder Ty Taborelli misplayed into a three-base error, allowing all four runs to score. Two runs would have scored on the play before the ball went under Taborelli's glove to bring home all four runs. After a Drew Butera double, Courtney Propst singled in Butera to give the Golden Knights a 5-0 lead.
UCF added another five-spot in the second to take a commanding 10-1 lead after two innings of play. Three straight RBI-singles by Howell, Ryan Bono and Bernhard led to the second inning fireworks.
UCF has outscored the opposition 69-16 in the first and second innings in 2005.
The early lead was more than enough for UCF starting pitcher Ray Rodriguez. The New York native moved to a perfect 6-0 on the season with 5.2 innings of work and a career-high nine strikeouts.
The Bulls did not go down without a fight as Bryan Hierlmeier hit two home runs in two innings, including a solo shot in the fifth and a grand slam in the sixth to close the deficit to 10-6.
UCF yielded one more run in the eighth before Dominic Petracca came in to pitch the final 1.2 innings for his team-leading fourth save of the season. Petracca struck out four of the six batters he faced. The Golden Knights struck out 16 batters on the night.
The Golden Knights had 10 hits on the night, but just two players had multi-hit games. Howell led the way with four hits while Bernhard was 2-for-4 with three RBI for the victors.
UCF returns to the diamond Wednesday vs. Bethune-Cookman. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. from Jay Bergman Field.
Game Notes: With the win, UCF clinched the season series from USF for the first time since 1999 ... UCF won two of three from the Bulls in 1999 ... UCF is 6-1 on Tuesdays in 2005 ... the Golden Knights are 22-2 when they out-hit the opposition ... UCF is 21-3 when scoring first and 15-0 when scoring in the first inning.