Despite an early 3-0 deficit, the No. 13 UCF baseball team reached the 40-win plateau for the first time since 2005 while clinching its 12th weekend-series win in a 13-6 triumph over Marshall Sunday at Appalachian Power Park.
The Knights (40-12, 15-5), who became the third team in the nation to reach 40 wins this year, broke out for four runs in the third, five in the fourth and a pair in the seventh and eighth to finish off the Thundering Herd (16-34, 4-17) and improve their road record to 15-3 overall and 10-2 in Conference USA.
UCF’s bats exploded for 15 hits, including a pair of home runs in the contest. Junior Chris Taladay smashed his first-career grand slam while Ronnie Richardson, D.J. Hicks and Jeramy Matos each had three-hit performances.
“(It was) a very determined group of guys today,” UCF head coach Terry Rooney said postgame. “Nobody was happy with the outcome yesterday. For these guys to bounce back the way they did today was without question a determined group. Anytime you can go on the road and win the series, it is a heck of a weekend.”
Before their winner-take-all C-USA series against Rice on Thursday-Saturday, the Knights will host in-state rival Stetson Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. Fans can enjoy dollar hot dogs all game long.
Facing a 3-0 hole heading into the top of the third, UCF responded in a big way as Travis Shreve hit a single, Richardson reached on an error and Darnell Sweeney sent the ball into center field to load the bases. Taladay wasted no time in unloading them as he smashed a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall for UCF’s first grand slam in 364 days (Erik Hempe at UAB).
The long ball wasn’t done for the Knights as Matos led off the top of the fourth with a screaming shot over the left-field wall for his fourth homer of the year. UCF responded with four more runs in the frame, including Hicks’ 65th RBI on a double and Alex Friedrich’s 34th to bring home the first baseman.
Marshall answered UCF’s nine-run two-inning barrage with three runs of its own to get back within striking distance, but the Knights would put the game away for good.
After scoreless frames from lefty Chris Matulis and righty Roman Madrid, the Knights tacked on two more in the top of the seventh after a leadoff walk to Nick Carrillo and a single up the middle by Matos led to Richardson bringing home the duo with a single over the pitcher’s mound for his third hit of the game.
Matos’ career day at the plate continued with his seventh double of the year well over the left fielder’s head to score Taladay and Hicks in the eighth. In the bottom-half of the frame, Madrid finished off his longest outing of the year (3 IP, 3 Ks) with a 6-4-3 double play.
Fresh off of breaking the school’s all-time saves record, lefty Joe Rogers appeared in his 74th game as a Knight and retired the Herd in order with two flyouts and his 42nd strikeout of the year to preserve Bryan Brown’s third win of the year.
News & Notes:
-UCF celebrated Mother’s Day at the ballpark as many team mothers and grandmothers made the trip to Charleston, including Kimmy Trivett, who made her first baseball weekend road trip this year with her husband Lynn. The couple made the trek after Kimmy was cleared by her doctors after being recently diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing radiation treatments. With a clean bill of health, the huge supporters enjoyed the trip which included the entire team signing a Mother’s Day card and posing for a team picture with Kimmy.