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Round One to the Knights
April 20, 2018
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TAMPA, Fla. ( - The UCF baseball team took round one of the War On I-4 on Friday night with a 1-0 victory over USF. Pitchers Cre Finfrock and Thad Ward combined to throw a one hitter with 12 strikeouts and post the ninth shutout of the year for the Knights.

"It was a huge win tonight," head coach Greg Lovelady said. "We went on the road against one of the best teams in the conference and one of the best pitchers in the country and got a very big win. Cre was unbelievable tonight. He built upon that start last week. Thad came in and pumped strikes. Ray got a huge triple in the first. We played great defense to help out the pitchers. We've turned a corner. They guys are growing up and taking a big step forward."

Finfrock, who was making his first weekend start in nearly two years, carried over the momentum from his performance at Miami last week. The redshirt junior was nearly flawless over six innings on the mound. Finfrock struck out a season-high eight batters with just one hit and one walk against. Ward came on for the final three innings to keep the Bulls off the board.

Ray Alejo put the Knights ahead in the top of the first inning. Alejo flashed his speed with a one-out triple off the wall in right center field. The redshirt sophomore broke for home on a wild pitch during the next at-bat and slid under the tag to score the lone run of the game. USF starter Shane McClanahan settled in to strike out 10 over six innings. Along with reliever Richie Cruz, the Bulls held the Black and Gold without a hit for the final eight innings of the game.

UCF (27-12, 7-6) - 1, USF (24-12, 7-6) - 0
Winning pitcher: Cre Finfrock (4-0)
Losing pitcher: Shane McClanahan (4-5)
Save: Thad Ward (1)
Top performers: Cre Finfrock (6 IP, 8 K, 1 BB, 1 H, 0 R), Thad Ward (3 IP, 4 K, 1 BB, 0 H, 0 R), Ray Alejo (1-3, 1 R, 1 3B)

* The Knights retired the side in order in five innings on Friday night.
* Finfrock posted a trio of 1-2-3 frames, while Ward followed suit in the seventh and eighth.
* The Bulls managed to advance two runner into scoring position on the night. The Knights forced USF to strand the potential tying run at third in the fourth.
* USF was held without a hit for the final seven innings.

* Ward picked up his second career save and first of the season.
* The junior struck at least one batter out in each innings to finish with four.
* The tall righty gave up a two-out walk in the ninth, but induced a game-ending groundout to short.

* UCF has won its last four against USF.
* The Knights have held the Bulls scoreless for the last 20 innings.
* With a walk in the sixth inning, Rylan Thomas extended his on-base streak to 47 games.
* Friday was the second one hitter that UCF has issued this year. It was also the 10th time the Black and Gold held an opponent under five hits.
* The Knights posted their 20th game of the year with at least 10 strikeouts.
* UCF added two more points to their lead in the War On I-4 to take a 44-21 advantage.

UCF and USF will square off for the second game of the War On I-4 tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. Chris Williams will get the ball for the Knights, while Peter Strzelecki will go to the mound for the Bulls.

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