HOUSTON, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - An effectively wild outing from senior LHP Chris Matulis, combined with clutch hitting and stellar defense, led to the UCF baseball team ending its six-game skid with a 5-1 triumph over No. 14 Rice Friday night in front of a national television audience on Fox College Sports.
The Knights (19-16, 5-5) earned their first win over a ranked opponent this season behind the 6-foot-5 lefty going a career-long eight-plus innings while allowing just one run on seven hits with eight walks and four strikeouts. His offense was no slouch either as it notched 11 hits in the game led by three players with two-hit performances.
"Chris Matulis was the story of the night," head coach Terry Rooney said after the game. "He had a lot more walks then we would have wanted, but at the end of the day he pitched in the clutch, and that's a quality you can't teach.
"The second story of the night is that we had some quality at-bats against their starting pitcher (Austin Kubitza) who is a proven guy in C-USA, and I thought our approach was fantastic."
Game two in the series will see RHP Ben Lively go for his sixth win of the year in his first Saturday start of 2013. All of the action from Reckling Park can be heard free of charge on Stretch Internet radio with a 2:45 p.m. EDT pregame show leading up to first pitch at 3.
Showing patience at the plate, UCF struck first off of Kubitza in the second as walk-on second baseman Bret Gordon (1-for-5, 1 RBI) hit and infield single to the ranging shortstop for a bases-loaded single while DH Jeramy Matos (2-for-5, 1 R, 1 RBI) scored on a double play to make it 2-0 in the second.
Matulis lived dangerously in the first four three, putting runners on second and third in the first three frames, only to get key plays from his defense to strand the Owls (24-12, 6-4) on the base paths.
Rice loaded the bags in the bottom-half of the fourth, and eventually got their only run of the night on the board after Matulis issued his sixth walk of the night with the bases being loaded. He would get out of the jam with a strikeout swinging, and in all, the Knights stranded 13 in the game.
UCF would back Matulis, and knock Kubitza from the contest in the fifth after the frame started when Erik Hempe (2-for-3, 1 R, 2 BB) reached on an error. He would come around to score on a Parker Webster (1-for-4, 2 R) RBI double to left-center while Matos brought him home on an RBI single down the left-field line to make it 4-1.
Prior to extending his hit streak to 13 games with a single in the eighth inning, senior infielder Chris Taladay (1-for-4, 1 RBI) added an insurance run in the sixth with a sacrifice fly to center to score first baseman James Vasquez (1-for-5, 1 R)
The final run for the Knights would come into play in the bottom of the ninth as Rice put two aboard with no one out prior to rookie Zac Favre entering the game. The freshman righty got one strikeout before a single loaded the bags. With the tying run at the plate, Favre induced a comebacker that he fielded cleanly to start the 1-2-3 double play close out the game and earn his second save of the year.
Ten Voucher packages are now on sale for only $50. Select the games that you want to attend for a discounted price. Voucher packages and single-game tickets can be purchased by calling 407-UCF-1000 or visit the baseball tickets page. Stay up-to-date on all the latest news by visiting UCFAthletics.com and following the team on Twitter (@UCF_Baseball) and Facebook.