UCF-ECU: Knights Baseball Gets Routed In Series Finale Vs. PiratesBaseball, Sports — By Eric Py on March 25, 2012 at 10:23 pm Tweet
The UCF baseball (19-6, 2-1 C-USA) looked to pull out the brooms against East Carolina (16-7, 1-2 C-USA), but the Pirates refused to leave Orlando without a win, thrashing the Knights 15-6 in the series finale Sunday afternoon.
The Knights saw their six-game winning streak come to an end but not before winning the series in the two days prior.
“Are we going to lose games? Of course, I’m disappointed in the way we lost today,” UCF Coach Terry Rooney said after the game. “We did not execute our game plan one bit today, unfortunately.”
While the ECU bats hit hard, it was the pitching of RHP Jharel Cotton that was the most devastating factor in the game to shutdown the Knights.
Cotton tossed a career-high 11 strikeouts against one of the premier batting orders in the nation. After the Knights put up 16 hits and 10 runs the night before, Cotton held the club to only two runs on 10 hits over seven innings, preventing the Knights from finding a rhythm.
Alex Friedrich went 3-for-4 with another home run in an encore of his wall-banging performance last night. Travis Shreve extended his hitting streak to eight games, while Ryan Breen and D.J. Hicks each recorded a pair of hits.
“Alex Friedrich is playing awesome, he’s doing it all. He’s doing it offensively and defensively,” said Coach Rooney. “He’s been a catalyst for us in a lot of ways.”
It was all ECU, seeking retribution for the first two games of the series, from that point on.
John Wooten gave the Pirates a runner with a lead off single to start the second inning. An error on third basemen Tommy Williams followed by a balk from Skoglund put the Pirates at second and third. Jay Cannon hit a two-out two-strike single to right to bring home two runs, giving the Pirates another early lead. ECU scored first in each of the last two games.
Jack Reinheimer hit a lead off single to start the third and gave the Pirates back-to-back lead off runners. Tim Younger hit a deep double to score Reinheimer and two straight walks led to bases loaded for ECU with only one out. Coach Rooney pulled the plug on Skoglund and brought in freshman RHP Garrett Nuss. A fielder’s choice RBI gave the Pirates a 4-0 lead before Nuss could get out of the inning.
ECU continued to stretch their lead in the fourth inning with a double and a two out single from Younger to create a five run deficit for the Knights.
Jharel Cotton was pitching a gem at this point, only surrendering one hit through four innings until Friedrich stepped up and recorded his second hit of the game. Friedrich hit a solo home run into the UCF bullpen to put the Knights on the board, but UCF still trailed 5-1.
ECU loaded the bases with only one out in the fifth inning to keep the pressure on the UCF bullpen and forced Coach Rooney to go to RHP Bryan Brown to try and keep the game within reach. Brown had not pitched since opening night, but delivered two huge outs to keep the Knights in the game.
Cotton continued to punish UCF hitters, after five innings he had struck out the lead off man in all five frames. Shreve singled to center and Ronnie Richardson hit a deep double to put a man on second and third as UCF started to threaten for the first time in the game.
A Darnell Sweeney single scored a run and put Knights at the corners until Sweeney was caught stealing and Hicks struck out to end the inning with only one run. The one run was a small price for Cotton to pay for what could have been a game-changing inning for the Knights.
Friedrich robbed what would have been a two-run homerun, but a run still scored from third in the sixth inning to put the Pirates up 6-2.
Chris Taladay gave the Knights their first lead off runner in the bottom of the sixth with a single to right field. Friedrich then hit a tough bouncer right up the middle for an infield hit with no outs. Taladay was picked off by the catcher and two more outs left the Knights still grappling with a four run hole.
The Pirates blew up the Knights hopes of a comeback in the seventh when a lead off walk was driven to third off a single and a safety squeeze bunt brought the run home. Back-to-back two-out singles each drove in another run and the icing on the cake was a two-run Corey Thompson home run to put the Pirates up 11-2 once the smoke settled.
Adding insult to injury, the Pirates tacked on four more runs in the top of the ninth to put the Pirates up 15-2.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Knights managed to load the bases and a Hicks double brought in two runs. A sacrifice ground ball brought home one more and a sacrifice fly from Friedrich brought home Hicks. While a 13-run comeback would have been nice, the rally was ended at four runs to only cushion the blowout score.
The Knights will play multiple games away from home for the first time this season, starting with a Tuesday night game at FAU before playing a three-game series at Houston next weekend.