ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) – Despite scoring four runs on seven hits in the last three innings, the UCF baseball team’s late-inning rally came up short against in-state rival USF Tuesday night. The Bulls hung on for a 6-4 victory, snapping the Knights’ three-game win streak in the series.
“I’m very proud of the way the guys battled back all the way to the end,” head coach Terry Rooney said after the game. “It showed a lot of fight and a lot of courage. Those are qualities of great teams.
“I told the guys that every night just assume it’s going to be a one or two-run game. The difference between winning 30 games and 40 games are those one or two-run games. It shows that every single pitch matters.”
The Knights will face a quick turnaround as they hit the road for the first time in 2013 with a trip to Daytona Beach to face Bethune-Cookman at 6 p.m. The game can be heard free of charge on Stretch Internet radio.
USF entered the scorebook early with an RBI groundout in the second followed by a three-run fourth to take a 4-0 lead. The Bulls would tack on another run in the fifth after two bloop singles, and make it 6-0 after a bases-loaded walk in the seventh.
In the bottom-half of the frame, the Knights would begin their rally as James Vasquez (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and Jeramy Matos (1-for-4) both teed off for solo home runs to make it two-straight contests the duo has homered in. For Matos, the senior designated hitter has now made it three-straight games with a dinger, becoming the first Knight to accomplish the feat since Jonathan Griffin in May 2011.
The solo-home-run binge continued in the eighth when Erik Hempe (2-for-4, 1 RBI) launched the first pitch he saw over the left-field wall for his first homer since May 25, 2011. After Austin Johnston coaxed a two-out walk and advanced on a wild pitch, Vasquez delivered in the clutch again, dropping a 3-2 pitch into centerfield to make it 6-4.
In the final inning, the Knights seemed destined for more after a Tommy Williams (2-for-4) single led the frame off and Hempe drew a 2-out walk. With runners on the corners for Chris Taladay, the senior sharply lined a ball up the middle, but the shortstop, already moving towards second base, stepped in front of the ball to end the rally and the game.
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