Ryan Breen and Beau Taylor each pounded out three hits and the bullpen once again did not allow a run in UCF’s 16-4 victory over Siena Sunday. The win secured the series sweep to open the 2011 season, while the Knights have produced at least 10 runs in seven-straight games dating back to 2010.
“I was pleased with how we played this weekend. We played very well defensively for the most part on the weekend and we only walked one guy in three games,” said head coach Terry Rooney. “Going into the weekend I said two things: we have got to play fundamental baseball and we have got to compete like crazy. And I think we did that.
“But it was the first weekend and there are some things we need to tighten up, and the first thing was our baserunning. We had some baserunning issues out there, but some of them are because we are very aggressive as a team. On the other side though they weren’t because we were aggressive, they just weren’t smart. So we’ve got to do a better job on the bases.”
With his three hits, Taylor’s hitting streak stretched to 24 games, just two shy of UCF’s all-time record set by Mike Myers in 2001. And as a team, the Knights’ non-conference winning streak moved to 17-consecutive games. The school record is 28 during the 1986 campaign when UCF was not affiliated with a conference.
The Knights completed Sunday’s contest with 13 hits and had help from seven Siena errors. Travis Shreve and Breen drove in three apiece as UCF struck out just twice compared to being issued 10 walks.
On the hill, relievers Chase Bradford (1-0), Bryan Brown and Joe Rogers combined to toss the final 4.1 innings, allowing only two hits, not walking a batter and striking out six.
Facing his first batter as a Knight, junior righty Ray Hanson needed just three pitches to sit down Ken Kirshner on strikes. When UCF strode to the dish in the home half of the first against starter Zach Hartman, Shreve led it off with a single, stole second with two outs and scored on Taylor’s RBI single.
UCF appeared ready to expand on its lead by stranded runners at second and third with one out in the second. That proved costly in the third when Siena plated three runs to take its first lead of the weekend.
The Knights tried again in the bottom of the third, putting runners at the corners with nobody out and scored one to make it 3-2. And an inning later, UCF evened things up again. Breen kick-started the frame with a single and Austin Johnston drew a walk, giving way to Alex Friedrich who laid down a perfect sac bunt. With a runner at third and one out, Shreve delivered a sacrifice fly to center.
Even though Siena struck back with a two-out run in the fifth to claim a 4-3 advantage, UCF answered again, this time on a sac fly off the bat of D.J. Hicks to bring home Taylor. But the inning was far from over. Two errors by the Saints enabled the Black and Gold to score four more runs, highlighted by Shreve ripping an outside pitch the opposite way through the right side for a pair of RBI.
Now up 8-4, UCF continued to pile it on with RBI from Breen and Johnston in the sixth before putting up a four spot in the seventh and one more in the eighth, ultimately closing the door on the win.
UCF will hit the road for week two, traveling to Bethune-Cookman Tuesday before participating in the South Alabama Classic Feb. 25-27.