HOUSTON, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - The No. 5 UCF baseball team was unsuccessful in game one of the Conference USA Championship, falling to No. 4 Memphis, 6-1, Wednesday afternoon at Reckling Park.
The Knights (29-28) were held to just four hits in what was a pitcher's duel early between Memphis' LHP Sam Moll and RHP Ben Lively. C-USA Player of the Year Chris Taladay was unable to extend his hit streak to 13 games, and failed to reach base safely for the first time in 38 contests with an 0-for-4 day at the dish.
"First of all I give a lot of credit to Memphis, they played an outstanding game. Moll did a fantastic job," head coach Terry Rooney said. "He certainly proved why is one of the best pitchers not only in this conference but in the country. He did a heck of a job today.
"Ben (Lively) was good. There were two great pitchers there today. It was like a boxing match. For the first six, seven innings it was two of the best pitchers in the conference going at it, and those guys did a little bit better job. Their offense put the ball in play with two strikes, and that to me was the defining difference."
UCF had its chances early in the game as second baseman Bret Gordon (1-for-3) got on board to leadoff the second and fourth innings, but he was stranded each time in scoring position. In all, nine base runners were stranded by the Black and Gold.
The Knights were finally able to capitalize off of Moll in the sixth as Erik Barber coaxed a two-out walk and later scored after Ryan Breen (1-for-3, 1 RBI) roped a 1-2 pitch into the gap in right-center for his fifth-career triple to tie the game at 1-all.
Memphis would untie the game just minutes later when Ethan Gross nabbed his own three-bagger to leadoff the following frame. He would score on a Carter White opposite-field single to give the Tigers (34-23) a 2-1 advantage. Memphis would tack on one more in the sixth as it registered four hits in the inning.
Things would get away from the Knights in the seventh as Lively was lifted after the first two runners managed to get on. He finished the afternoon with six-plus innings of work, 10 hits and five runs allowed while walking a pair and striking out six.
After his departure, the Tigers would load the bases with no one out and ended up scoring three in the frame on a sacrifice fly and two-run single to cap the afternoon with a 6-1 advantage.
UCF will now turn its attention to Thursday night's showdown with top-seeded Rice at 8 p.m. EDT. It can be seen on the C-USA Digital Network, while Marc Daniels will be on the airwaves in Central Florida on 740-AM The Game.
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