April 15, 2014
By Andrew Jennette
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - James Vasquez hit a first-inning, three-run homer that helped lift the UCF baseball team to a 11-4 victory over Florida A&M on Tuesday night. The offense continues to be red hot as it has now scored 30 runs in the last three games.
The Knights (23-15) edged the Rattlers (15-21) for the 18th time in 21 all-time meetings and won for the 16th time in their last 20 games overall this season.
Offensively we've done a really nice job the last couple of days, to be honest, the last few weeks, head coach Terry Rooney said after the game. The approaches have been good. We've seen a lot of different pitchers and adapted to it. Guys have done a good job of picking each other up.
The game started after an hour delay due to travel problems for FAMU, but UCF wasn't fazed by the pushed-back start as it took an early 3-0 lead in the first inning on Vasquez' big blast. The Palm City native went 1-for-2 with a walk, three RBI and three runs scored and now has hits in 12 of his last 13 games.
Freshman Robby Howell (1-1) earned the first win of his collegiate career after tossing three scoreless innings of relief. The Fort White native, making his first appearance since March 26, struck out a career-best four batters.
I felt pretty good. It was great to get back out there, Howell said. I've been doing dry work and working with the coaches every day to keep getting better. Being around older guys like (Eric) Skoglund and Spencer (Davis), they keep pushing you to work hard. It feels great to get that first win, it was a good team win tonight.
Howell replaced sophomore Tyler Martin who allowed two earned runs over three innings in his third start of the season. Junior Spencer Davis worked a perfect seventh before giving way to fellow junior Danny Dixon. Dixon, an Orlando native, did not allow a hit and struck out a pair in two innings of work.
Not having to overwork our bullpen tonight was extremely important, Rooney said. All of that is kind of the game within the game we talk about. In the bigger picture, we need our bullpen to be fresh and ready to go for this weekend. The guys that had their opportunity tonight did a real nice job.
The Black and Gold plated a pair of runs in the third to extend its lead. After Vasquez led off the inning with a walk, freshman Matt Diorio (2-for-4, 3 RBI) brought him home with his first-career triple. The Staten Island, N.Y. native is now hitting .359 and has 10 hits in his last five games. Junior Sam Tolleson plated Diorio later in the inning on a sacrifice fly, the first of two RBIs for the Houston native.
The big inning for the Knights came in the seventh. Leading 6-3, the team broke the game open with a five spot in the frame. With the bases loaded and none out, Diorio plated two with a single into right. Freshman Kyle Perkins, making his sixth start of the season behind the plate, picked up the first RBI of his career on a squeeze play later in the inning. The Wellington native reached base in three of his four plate appearances.
Junior Dylan Moore (3-for-6) finished off the Knights' scoring with a RBI single in the seventh. The Yorba Linda, Calif., native now leads the American Athletic Conference with 54 hits while ranking fifth in batting average at .340.
UCF will get Wednesday off before it returns to the baseball complex for arguably its biggest home series of the year. It will be a battle for first place in The American when No. 9 Louisville rolls into town. First pitch on Thursday is set for 6:30 p.m.
Ten-game voucher packages and single-game tickets can be purchased at our Baseball Ticket Central page, or by calling the UCFAA Sales & Service Office at (407) UCF-1000. Stay up-to-date on all the latest baseball news by following the team on Twitter @UCF_Baseball, Facebook and Instagram.