May 21, 2016
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Facing an 8-1 deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning, junior outfielder Eli Putnam connected on a solo homer to spark a six-run, ninth-inning rally in an 8-7 loss to East Carolina on Saturday at the UCF Baseball Complex. The bases were loaded for the Knights with two outs when the Pirates sealed the game.
Following Putnam's fourth round tripper of the season, junior outfielder Matt Diorio, who went 3-for-3, connected on a double to left field before a pair of groundouts put two away. A walk drawn by junior second baseman Kam Gellinger and single up the middle by freshman third baseman Matthew Mika cut the Knights' (25-31, 8-16 The American) deficit to 8-3.
Following a base on balls issued to junior pinch hitter Eugene Vazquez, junior outfielder Luke Hamblin continued the two-out rally with a two-run single up the middle before junior shortstop Brennan Bozeman beat out an infield base hit to plate a run, 8-6. The ECU (34-19-1, 15-8-1 The American) lead was cut to one-run on a base knock up the middle by Putnam, who notched his third hit.
With two runners on base, Diorio battled in his at bat and delivered a would-be double down the left field line, which was inches foul, before drawing his second walk of the game. A strikeout by the Pirates' Joe Ingle ended the game.
The Knights pushed across their first run in the seventh inning when Diorio doubled down the left field line and senior outfielder Sam Tolleson drove him in on a single though the left side, 6-1.
UCF recognized seniors Harrison Hukari and Sam Tolleson prior to the game along with student manager Jacob Colquhoun. Hukari, a fifth-year senior, will finish his career in third place in appearances (81) on the all-time charts. Tolleson, who overcame an injury last season after earning AAC All-Conference honors in 2014, has started 41 games and driven in 21 runs.
The best relief outing for the Knights came from sophomore Andrew Deramo, who went four innings and struckout four. Junior Trent Thompson, Drew Faintich, sophomore Chris Williams and freshman Thaddeus Ward also threw in the contest.
East Carolina was paced by Dewanya Williams-Sutton, who went 4-for-4 with a solo homer and double. Eric Tyler (3), Bryce Harman (2) and Travis Watkins (2) each tallied multi-hit games, while Watkins also drove in a pair of runs. Sam Lanier (1-1) notched the victory in relief after going 1 2/3 frames and striking out one.
- The American Championship begins on Tuesday for the Knights at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. UCF will face the No. 1 seed (Tulane/ECU) at 7 p.m. in a contest televised by CBS Sports Network.