April 14, 2013
By Eric DeSalvo
HOUSTON, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - Trailing 7-5 with two outs and runners on second and third at No. 14 Rice on Sunday, the UCF baseball team looked to tie the game on an Erik Hempe single off the shortstop's glove. After JoMarcos Woods scored from third, Bo Decker slid in head first for the tying run, but was called out to give the Owls the 7-6 victory.
The Knights (20-17, 6-6), having already won the series, were looking to become the first team to sweep Rice at home since Texas A&M did in 1993. By taking two-of-three on the weekend from the Owls (25-13, 7-5), UCF improved its road record in Conference USA to 23-10 since 2011.
Out-hitting Rice in the three-game set, 32-28, UCF jumped out to an early 4-0 advantage after James Vasquez notched an RBI groundout prior to Jeramy Matos (3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI) teeing off for the first time with a two-run shot in the fourth and Hempe (2-for-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI) blasting his third of the year to left-center to lead-off the sixth.
Limiting the Owls to just three hits and one run through six, starter Eric Skoglund ran into trouble in the seventh as Rice posted back-to-back one-out singles and coaxed a walk to load the bases. A call to the bullpen saw two-straight bases loaded walks bring in runs prior to third baseman Shane Hoelscher cracking a single up the middle to make it 5-4, Rice.
The Owls would tack on two more in the frame, eventually sending 11 to the dish while capitalizing on four walks and four singles to take a 7-4 lead.
Fighting back, the Knights saw Matos unload on a first-pitch fastball up and in that landed well beyond the left-field fence for his second dinger of the day. He now has eight homers in 2013, and became the first Knight to smack two in a game since D.J. Hicks in the Coral Gables Regional Championship.
Overall, the Knights sent four balls out of the park on the weekend, and now own a league-best 23 on the year.
Down two quick outs in the ninth, Woods stepped up with a single to left-center followed by Vasquez ripping a ball down the right-field line to put runners at the corners. Decker lifted Vasquez off the base paths prior to the bang-bang play at home plate that ended the afternoon.
With the eight-game road trip in the books, the Knights will now entertain for eight-straight at the UCF baseball complex starting with FAU on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. The contest will serve as the annual "Pink in the Park" night to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Ten Voucher packages are now on sale for only $50. Select the games that you want to attend for a discounted price. Voucher packages and single-game tickets can be purchased by calling 407-UCF-1000 or visit the baseball tickets page. Stay up-to-date on all the latest news by visiting UCFAthletics.com and following the team on Twitter (@UCF_Baseball) and Facebook.