The UCF Knights (1-0) kicked off the 2012 college baseball season with a bang after beating LIU of Brooklyn (0-1) Friday night, 13-7, in front of 2,038 fans at the newly renovated Jay Bergman Field.
Despite the win, Coach Terry Rooney felt that his squad could have played better.
When asked what he thought about the game, he exclaimed: “We have to play better fundamental baseball, we have to. Fundamentally wise, we did not play a very good game, we need to get better.”
He did however mention his team’s confidence to “win the last three”. He was referring to his team’s ability to battle in the last three innings of the ball game, where the Knights found themselves in a tie game after having a 7-2 lead going into the fifth inning.
It was the Knights who struck first after Blackbirds’ pitcher Chris Franzese threw a wild pitch allowing short stop Darnell Sweeney, who was at third base, to come home, making the match 1-0 after the first inning.
The Knights continued their scoring momentum into the second inning after James Vasquez, the newly acquired freshman infielder, batted in Nick Carrillo for the Knights’ second point of the game. Sweeney, who scored the Knights’ first point, also delivered an RBI that would see his teammate Alex Friedrich score as well.
UCF’s fourth point of the game would later come after yet another wild pitch from the opponent’s starting pitcher, bringing in Vasquez.
The Blackbirds were poised to put some points on the board after UCF’s starting pitcher Brian Adkins saw himself in a vulnerable state at this point of the game. With the bases loaded for the Blackbirds, Adkins, who allowed just seven hits in the game, got himself out of a jam ending the inning with the Knights still leading.
However in the fourth inning, the Blackbirds would finally put some runs on the board after Jesse Brown, their freshman catcher, hit one that would allow Chris Untereiner home for LIU’s first run of the game. The second run of the game came after a sacrifice fly down the leftfield hash by Albert Faz, allowing his teammate Tito Marrero to score.
UCF had their equal share of scoring, having put three runs on the board as well in the fourth inning. Chris Taladay garnered an RBI after Ronnie Richardson scored and Ryan Breen got into the action by delivering two RBI’s after both D.J. Hicks and Taladay scored.
The rally was enough to cause enough concern among the Blackbirds coach, who at this point in time, came out to the pitching mound for the third time of the game to calm down his pitcher, who eventually made it through the inning without allowing any more runs.
The Blackbirds would eventually catch fire starting in the fifth inning after Tyler Jones started a rally by hitting the games only homerun. With Bryan Brown now the pitcher in the sixth inning, he faced a challenging Blackbirds lineup that now for what ever reason has become a bit more confident. Brown saw himself with multiple bases loaded scenarios that would allow LIU to tie the game at 7-7 until he got himself out of the jam by pop flying Blackbirds’ Albert Faz.
Brown would eventually find his footing in the seventh having constructed a quick three and out.
The pitching for the Blackbirds would continue to falter as there starter yet walked two Knights home after being jammed in a bases loaded situation.
The eighth inning was the best Knights’ showing of the night with Richardson leading the charge with three runs batted in and last year’s All American selection, D.J. Hicks, getting his first RBI of the night.
The Blackbirds wouldn’t be able to recover as Joe Rogers, the left handed pitcher, would come in to close the game out.
After the game, the Knights huddled on the outfield for about 10 minutes, where according to Richardson, the coach wanted to see them “clean it up.”
“We left a lot of runners on base with less than two outs,” Richardson said. “I feel like everybody was a little nervous….We’ll hydrate tonight, get some sleep, and get ready for tomorrow.”
Bryan Adkins, the starting pitcher for Friday’s game, wasn’t so stoked about how he did either.
“It’s good that we won, I certainly didn’t throw as well as I wanted to…my focus this week will be to keep the ball down.”
UCF will return to the field at 1 p.m. Saturday in what will be a doubleheader due to impending rain on Sunday. The second game will begin one hour after the completion of the first game.