HATTIESBURG, Miss. (UCFAthletics.com) - D.J. Hicks and Travis Shreve combined for seven RBI as the No. 13 UCF baseball team evened up the series at Southern Miss with an 11-6 triumph Saturday in front of 3,963 fans at Pete Taylor Park. The Knights (29-8, 8-3) reclaimed their Conference-USA lead with the win.
On the afternoon, UCF batters smacked 14 hits and were very aggressive on the basepaths with a season-high eight steals. Junior Chris Matulis notched win No. 5 of 2012 after tossing 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out four. Junior Roman Madrid earned his second save of the year after notching two outs in the eighth and finishing off the ninth.
"I was a little tired, but anything I could do to get us the win since we needed it. I went out and got it done," Madrid said after pitching back-to-back games. "Our offense has been on all year and our pitching is great. When we fire on all cylinders, we are a really good team that is hard to compete with."
UCF will look to keep its season-long weekend unbeaten streak intact Sunday with the rubber-match against the Golden Eagles set for 12:30 p.m. EDT.
After managing just six hits Friday night, UCF wasted no time in getting to USM's Jake Drehoff. Hitting second in the lineup, Darnell Sweeney (2-for-4, 1 RBI) crushed his team-leading fourth triple of the year and was brought home on a D.J. Hicks (2-for-3) RBI single to left-center. Third baseman Chris Taladay (1-for-5) reached on his 56th hit of the year and Alex Friedrich (2-for-5, 1 RBI) lifted a ball into center field to score Hicks during the opening frame.
The second inning saw the Knights swing away once again as JoMarcos Woods (2-for-4, 3 runs) ripped a double down the right-field line and was brought home by Travis Shreve (2-for-5, 4 RBI) who smacked a 3-2 pitch past the third baseman.
Southern Miss responded in the bottom of the third with a trio of runs off Matulis to tie up the game. The Knights responded in the top of the fifth as Ronnie Richardson (2-for-5, 3 SB) doubled and Sweeney walked. The speedy duo executed the double steal perfectly, which allowed Hicks to register his 15th career sacrifice fly, second all-time at UCF, to give the Knights a 4-3 advantage.
UCF wasn't done scoring as they came back in the sixth with a pair of runs on just a hit and four steals. Woods notched his second double of the game and stole third which setup Shreve with another RBI opportunity that he took advantage of with a grounder to second base. After Jeramy Matos stole second and advanced on the grounder, he and Richardson completed another double steal that gave the Knights a 6-3 lead.
After a Sweeney RBI single in the top of the eighth, Southern Miss rallied for three runs on three hits, but the damage was minimized when Madrid entered from the bullpen and got two groundouts to keep the 7-6 lead.
The Knights would put the game away for good in the ninth, scoring four runs on three hits while sending nine to the plate. Shreve sent a shot past the shortstop for a two-run single and Hicks hit his second sacrifice fly of the game for his third RBI on the day.
News & Notes
-Richardson leads C-USA with 15 stolen bases on the year
-Hicks now owns 52 RBI on the year after totaling 66 in 2011
-UCF executed two double steals perfectly, including a Jeramy Matos theft of home, the second of 2012 for the Knights
-Madrid made his team-leading 19th appearance out of the bullpen and lowered his miniscule ERA down to 0.33 in 27 1/3 innings
-Breen, Friedrich and Taladay extended their hitting streaks to seven games
-Woods notched his first two doubles as a Knight in today's game