Austin Griffin came up with the bases loaded and connected on a grand slam. The round tripper to left center in the fifth frame powered the Knights to an 8-3 victory over Cornell on Saturday at the UCF Baseball Complex.
"My teammates keep getting me into that spot with the bases loaded and I keep coming through," Griffin said. "It was a 3-1 count, so I was looking to be very aggressive and he left me something that I could handle."
After yielding three runs in the first inning, junior Robby Howell (5-0) settled in and logged 7 2/3 innings. He fanned a season-high six batters and helped the Knights' defense turn three double plays in a four-inning stretch. Junior Drew Faintich and freshman Thaddeus Ward combined to retire the final five outs.
"Robby slowed the game down after getting a little frustrated early," Rooney said. "We talk a lot about being able to separate pitches and pitching down in the zone."
The Knights have clinched the series against the Big Red and go for the sweep at 11 a.m. Sunday. The game was moved up from 1 p.m. due to the threat of inclement weather in the afternoon.
Three Grand Slams for Griffin
- Austin Griffin put UCF on top for good with a grand slam in the fifth inning.
- The bases loaded round tripper was his third of the campaign. He is now 5-for-8 with the bases loaded.
- The Keller, Texas, native also blasted his conference-leading eighth homer.
- The frame was setup with a double by Eugene Vasquez, walk issued to Luke Hamblin and infield bunt single by Ryan Crile.
"He has certainly been a force in the middle of our lineup. That is what you hope for in the middle of the lineup - run production - Griff has done that without any question. It was an advantage count for him, he went down and got the pitch. He has been doing that for quite a while."
-HC Terry Rooney
- The Knights pushed across their first run on an RBI single by Luke Hamblin following a single and wild pitch in the third inning, 3-1.
- UCF cut the deficit to 3-2 on a run-producing ground out by Jake Corso, 3-2 in the fifth stanza.
- Logan Heiser started off the sixth frame with a no-doubt homer over the fence in left. It was his second of the campaign.
- A one-out double by Kam Gellinger started the seventh inning and three-consecutive walks increased the lead to 8-3.
"Coach Rooney emphasized to be aggressive at the plate, yesterday. The approach was to battle with two strikes because we had been striking out a lot as a team. In doing that, we were being a little passive early in counts, so he wanted us to be more aggressive in advantage counts."
-3B Austin Griffin
"Today, I felt like offensively, we had something to us. It was the first time in a couple games that we had some swagger. I thought that our guys did a really good job." -HC Terry Rooney
Noting the Big Red
- Ellis Bitar paced Cornell with a pair of hits and one RBI.
- Tim Willittes (2-2) went five innings and struckout three, while yielding six runs.
- The Big Red also saw Jamie Flynn and Scott Soltis see time on the hill.