The No. 19 UCF baseball team put up six two-out runs and received seven strong innings on the mound from senior Ray Hanson for a 6-2 victory over USF Tuesday night. The Knights (17-5) swept the season series from the Bulls (14-8) for the first time since 1995.
After being held hitless through the first 4 2/3 innings by USF starter Derrick Stultz, the UCF bats came alive as the Knights put up three runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and a pair in the seventh. The offense was led by Ronnie Richardson’s three-run double and D.J. Hicks’ 33rd and 34th RBI of 2012.
“It was one of the better pitched games for us all season and Ray (Hanson) did a great job,” UCF head coach Terry Rooney said. “The name of the game tonight was timely hitting. Although there weren’t a lot of hits in the game, our offense came through with some clutch hits and a lot of hard-hit balls.”
Combined with the clutch two-out hits, Hanson was the story of the night for UCF as he worked in and out of trouble early, but settled down and tossed a season-high seven innings while surrendering only four hits and one run.
In the first inning, he induced a 6-3 double play and managed to get out of a first and third jam in the second with a fly-out to Alex Friedrich in right. In the third after hitting USF’s Alex Mendez, Hanson induced his second double play with a 4-6-3 to get out of the frame unscathed.
The bats came to life in the top of the fifth with two outs on the board. UCF ripped three hits for three runs to take a 3-1 lead in the frame.
Freshman James Vasquez sent a blooper into center field and Nick Carrillo followed with a shot to shallow right. Spencer Haynes, a native of nearby Valrico, took a 2-2 pitch to the back which set up Richardson with the bases loaded. He blasted the first pitch he saw to left field just inches from being a grand slam for a three-run double.
In the top of the sixth, Friedrich was hit by a pitch and stole his seventh base of the season shortly after. Stultz then sent a wild ball past the catcher, which allowed the speedy Friedrich to score all the way from second base.
With the bases juiced in the seventh, D.J. Hicks came through with more clutch two-out hitting as he sent a shallow ball to left to plate Vasquez and Richardson, increasing the Knights’ lead to 6-1.
Junior Jimmy Reed relieved Hanson in the eighth and was able to get out of a bases-loaded no-out jam by only surrendering a run on a sacrifice fly. He worked a perfect ninth inning with a pair of strikeouts to finish off the contest.