May 28, 2005
DeLAND - Florida Atlantic (36-21) left fielder Jonathan Shapland drove in four runs to lead the Owls to a 5-3 victory over UCF (42-18) in an elimination game Saturday at the Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship at Melching Field. Shapland provided the offensive spark for the second-seeded Owls as UCF's run in the Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship came to an end.
The Golden Knights, who are in their final year in the Atlantic Sun, leave as the conference's all-time leader in tournament wins (29) and tournament titles (6). UCF will join Conference USA in the fall of 2005.
"We had some opportunities but it just didn't happen" stated UCF head coach Jay Bergman.
Florida Atlantic used the long ball in the first as Shapland hit a three-run home run to right field to give the Owls a 3-0 lead. Billek allowed just one hit in the inning, but FAU took advantage of one UCF error and a walk for the three-run frame.
UCF came back with two runs in the home half the first. Dee Brown started the scoring with a single to right to score Matt Ray. FAU right fielder Tim Mascia lost the ball in the sun as the fly ball dropped in behind Mascia to score Ray from second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Ryan Bono walked to force in UCF's second run. UCF's chance for a big inning evaporated when Kevin Richmond left the bases loaded as he fouled out to end the threat.
Alex Fonseca's RBI single in the third extended the FAU lead to 4-2.
UCF started the sixth with back-to-back singles, including a RBI-single by Dew Butera to cut the lead to 4-3. With Butera on first and no outs, Bono bunted into a double play to end the threat.
UCF got the leadoff man on in the sixth, seventh and eighth, but the Golden Knights hit into a double play in each inning.
Shapland's big day continued in the ninth as his RBI single pushed the lead to 5-3.
Mike McBryde finished the Golden Knights off in order in the ninth for the three-inning save. McBryde yielded just one hit for his 10th save of the season.
Both starting pitchers were marvelous in the fourth day of tournament action. FAU starter Chris Salberg (6-4), making his second start of the tournament, gutted out 6.0 innings and held UCF to three runs on four hits with five strikeouts.
UCF starter Mike Billek (4-3) threw well for the Golden Knights in 7.0 innings of work. The right-hander, who earned the save in Friday's win over Troy, limited the Owls to four runs (three earned) on six hits with four strikeouts.
"I thought Mike had one of his best starts in a long time," added Bergman.
UCF now must wait and see if it will earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Baseball Championships. ESPN will present "The Road to Omaha" (2005 Division I Baseball Selection Show) at 11:30 a.m. Monday.
"Well, they would have certainly been enhanced if we won today," Bergman commented on UCF's chances of earning an at-large bid. "Forty-two wins is a pretty solid season ... it's going to be interesting on Monday. They are going to be a lot of disappointed people around the country and I certainly hope we are not one of them."
Game Notes: Dee Brown's RBI single in the first was his 71st RBI of the season ... he is tied for fourth in single-season history at UCF with Greg Pacitti (1997) ... Marshall Bernhard became the third Golden Knight to reach the 25 stolen base plateau in the sixth inning.