ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – Outfielder Ray Alejo drove in four runs, as the Knights totaled 10 runs on 10 hits and the pitching staff tossed 10 strikeouts in Tuesday night’s 10-2 win over Stetson at John Euliano Park. The Knights improved to 4-0 for the 11th time in program history.
“It’s really exciting to have a big win like this early in the season,” head coach Greg Lovelady said. “That’s a club that’s going to be in the regionals this season. I thought we made some huge strides from last weekend and improved where we needed to get better. I’m proud of Jaylyn for doing well in his first start and for the bullpen for throwing five hitless innings. We got some big two-out hits and put up some crooked numbers on the board. It was a great step to take with a really good Auburn team coming to town this weekend.”
UCF opened the game with a pair of runs on bases-loaded walks in the bottom of the second, before Stetson responded with a two-run home run from left fielder Austin Bogart to tie the game. Those would be the only runs the Knights would allow the rest of the night.
The Black and Gold broke the game open in the third with five runs on five hits. Dalton Wingo put the Knights back in the lead with a one-out single down the line in left to bring home Matthew Mika from second. Two batters later, UCF benefitted from a throwing error when Brandon Hernandez grounded to short, which gave Chandler Robertson safe passage in from third. Alejo drove in two more runs on a single to left, before Dallas Beaver single through the right side to make it 7-2.
The Knights tacked on three more runs over the next two innings. Pedro Castellano doubled down the left field line in the fourth to bring in a pair, before Alejo launched a solo shot to the bullpen in left an inning later.
UCF (4-0) – 10, Stetson (0-4) – 2
Winning Pitcher: Jaylyn Whitehead (2-0)
Losing Pitcher: Vlad Nunez (0-1)
Top Hitters: Ray Alejo (2-4, 4 RBI, 1 HR, 2 R), Dalton Wingo (2-5, 1 RBI, 2 R), Pedro Castellano (1-3, 2 RBI)
Top Pitchers: Jaylyn Whitehead (4.0 IP, 2 K, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 ER), Kyle Kemp (1.0 IP, 3 K, 0 H), Jeffrey Hakanson (1.0 IP, 3 K, 0 H)
ALEJO’S BIG NIGHT
Alejo’s four RBI matched his career high set back on March 23 against ECU last season. After driving in a pair during his second at-bat, the redshirt junior flashed his trademark speed on the RBI single from Dallas Beaver through the right side, making it home in plenty of time. The Orlando native’s big moment came in the sixth, when he obliterated a 2-2 offering over the wall in left. Dating back to last season, Alejo is now on a six-game hitting streak, two shy of his career long.
• After starting pitcher Jaylyn Whitehead went four innings to earn the first win of his career, the bullpen never allowed Stetson a chance to get back in the game.
• Over the next five innings, the staff fanned nine batters and issued just two free passes.
• Kyle Kemp and Jeffrey Hakanson struck out three in the sixth and ninth innings, respectively.
• Luis Ferrer made quick work in the eighth, striking out on and throwing just 10 pitches.
• The Knights improved to 73-48 all-time against the Hatters.
• UCF has struck out at least 10 batters in every game this season.
• Chandler Robertson extended his on-base streak to a career-best 11 games.
• The Knights totaled five two-out RBI on the night.
• For the first time this season, the Knights did not have a stolen base.
• Alejo and Castellano produced the only extra-base hits on the evening for the Black and Gold.
• Ben McCabe recorded his first career hit during his first at-bat as a Knight, a single to left in the eighth inning.
UCF will continue its stretch of eight games against 2018 NCAA Regional opponents when Auburn comes to John Euliano Park for a three-game series. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with a 1 p.m. start on Sunday.
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