Chris Duffy’s 20-game hitting streak came to a halt against the Bulls (13-16). That was tied for the second-longest active streak in the nation, while it matched the third-longest in UCF history. Meanwhile, Ryan Breen was 2-for-3 with two doubles and a pair of walks. Starting pitcher Brennan Dobbins went four innings, giving up two runs and striking out a season-high six, which was one short of his career-best.
The Bulls’ Kyle Parker opened the game by walking Richardson and even though a sac bunt pushed him to second, the Knights still could not drive him in. When Dobbins took the hill for UCF, he struck out the first two batters he faced on six pitches. His offense then came back in the second and while Breen led off with a double, the Black and Gold failed to produce a run.
Once again in the third, UCF sent a runner to second with less than two outs when Kevin Vasquez bunted into a fielder’s choice and stole second. But this time Brown delivered. Following a walk to Darnell Sweeney, Brown drilled the first pitch he saw into left field for a two-out, two-run double. Now with a 2-0 lead, Dobbins could not hold it as USF plated two of its own in the home half.
For the fourth-straight inning, a Knight reached second in their next trip to the plate as Breen was issued a four-pitch walk to kick off the frame and immediately stole second. Three outs later and the game remained tied at 2-2. Dobbins kept it that way by escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the fourth. Eventually in the fifth, Vasquez was plunked to start it up and was sacrificed to second, only the Knights were unable to take the lead. USF also attempted to score with a runner at second in the fifth, yet reliever Nick Cicio struck out Eric Sim for the third out.
Amazingly the trend continued in the sixth. Breen hammered a one-out double to left, and he would break the scoreless drought by touching home on an infield single from Chris Taladay and a throwing error by second baseman Jonathan Koscso. Now with Taladay at second, reliever Doug Wagner entered and retired the next two.
Ahead 3-2, Cicio struck out the side in the sixth, setting up another clutch situation in the seventh for the UCF bats. Pinch-hitter Beau Taylor singled to right to lead it off and touched second on a groundout. Although Wagner picked up out No. 2, Brown punished a 1-0 pitch to right for a single to make it 4-2.
South Florida threatened in the bottom half, getting the first two batters aboard and it would go on to cut the UCF advantage in half on a sacrifice fly. The Knights searched for more in the eighth when they loaded the bases with two down, where Kevin Quackenbush got ahead 0-2 on Richardson yet threw one in the dirt for a wild pitch to make it 5-3. Then on a 2-2 count, Richardson blasted a two-run triple into the left-center gap, marking his first-career three-bagger.
UCF’s third pitcher of the night, Matt Manning hit the first two in the bottom of the eighth before picking up two strikeouts. The righty then induced Alex Mendez to fly out to right to conclude the threat. The sidearmer stayed in for the ninth and proceeded to earn a game-ending double play, sealing the 7-3 victory.