ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF baseball team opened its annual War On I-4 series on Friday night with a convincing 4-1 win over USF at John Euliano Park. The Knights jumped out to a four-run lead through three innings of play and never looked back.
“It’s another big win,” head coach Greg Lovelady said. “Grant has been phenomenal on Friday nights for us this season and gave us another great start tonight. Ray gave us a huge boost with a home run in the first. We held on from there. I’m proud of Kemp and Hakanson for getting us out of a jam and shutting the door on the back end. The first goal of the weekend is to start with a win. Now, we have to be ready to go tomorrow night.”
UCF struck first win an opening salvo in the first inning. Alejo launched his second leadoff home run of the season, a solo shot on the first pitch he saw. Two batters later, Matthew Mika roped a double to left center. Dallas Beaver brought him in with an RBI double to right center. After a Dalton Wingo single to put runners on the corners, an error at shortstop gave beaver plenty of time to trot in from third to make it 3-0.
Wingo tacked on an insurance run in the third. Following back-to-back walks by Mika and Beaver, Wingo doubled to right center to provide some more run support.
The four-run cushion was more than enough for starting pitcher Grant Schuermann. The redshirt senior cruised through his first six innings, keeping the Bulls off the board. The southpaw retired the first seven batters he faced including a 10-pitch second inning. After an infield single and a walk in the third, Schuermann carved through his third 1-2-3 innings on nine pitches.
Schuermann finished with 6 2/3 innings of work with a pair of strikeouts. He scattered five hits and issued just two free passes with one run against.
The lefty made his exit with two on and two out in the seventh as Jeffrey Hakanson jogged in from the bullpen. The sophomore got out of the jam with a strikeout to end the frame after USF broke up the shutout.
Hakanson worked his way through the eighth with two more strikeouts, before Kyle Kemp closed the game down in the ninth with a strikeout for his second save of the year.
UCF (19-11, 2-5) – 4, USF (13-15, 1-6) – 1
Winning Pitcher: Grant Schuermann (3-3)
Losing Pitcher: Baron Stuart (1-1)
Top Hitters: Matthew Mika (2-3, 1 RBI, 2 R), Dallas Beaver (2-2, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB), Dalton Wingo (2-4, 1 RBI)
Top pitchers: Grant Schuermann (6.2 IP, 2 K, 5 H, 2 BB, 1 ER), Jeffrey Hakanson (1.1 IP, 3 K, 1 H, 0 R), Kyle Kemp (1.0 IP, 1 K, 0 H)
QUALITY FROM SCHERM
• Schuermann recorded his team-high fifth quality start during his time at UCF and the 19th of his career, dating back to his three seasons at Furman.
• The southpaw allowed just one leadoff batter to reach, which came on a single in the fifth inning.
• The redshirt senior has gone at least six innings in six of his eight starts.
• UCF had six of its eight hits come from Matthew Mika, Dallas Beaver and Dalton Wingo, all of whom had two base knocks.
• The Knights tallied five extra-base hits, including four doubles, tied for the second most this season.
• Ray Alejo’s home run moved him into a tie with Beaver for the team lead with six.
• UCF now leads the War On I-4 by a score of 41-6 and needs just one more win this weekend to secure the All-Sports Trophy for the third straight season… the competition is in its third season
• The Knights have converted eight of their 10 save opportunities with Jeffrey Hakanson and Kyle Kemp accounting for seven combined.
• Dallas Beaver drew his 24th walk of the year, a team high.
• With a trio of punchouts, Jeffrey Hakanson added to his team-leading strikeout tally of 34.
UCF will look to win its first series in American Athletic Conference play on Saturday night against the Bulls. Chris Williams will throw out the first pitch at 6 p.m.
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