April 26, 2013
By Eric DeSalvo
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF redshirt senior LHP Chris Matulis knew the key to his success Friday night was to limit walks and control the Houston run game. The southpaw did just that and more in the Knights' 4-2 series-opening victory over the 30th-ranked Cougars.
Matulis, who received four two-out RBI from his offense, was impressive in his fifth win of the year, making it through eight innings for the fourth time in Conference USA play. The 6-foot-6 southpaw was aggressive all night, not walking a batter for the first time in a start this year while scattering six hits and striking out six.
Chris Matulis was fantastic, head coach Terry Rooney said after the game. I was about as fired up as a coach (can be) after he came off the field after that eighth inning. That was awesome. Matulis has been doing it for us all year.
UCF's 5-7 batters in the lineup did all of the damage to the Cougars (27-15, 7-6) as first baseman James Vasquez (2-for-4, 2 RBI), DH Jeramy Matos (1-for-3, 2 RBI) and second baseman Bret Gordon (1-for-4, 1 RBI) all came through in the clutch with two-out base hits.
The Knights (23-19, 9-7) continue the series Saturday at 4 p.m. with RHP Ben Lively (6-3, 1.09 ERA) on the mound, and will welcome many former players back to campus on UCF Baseball Alumni Day.
Looking for their first hit with two outs in the fourth inning, the Knights got one and more as Vasquez singled to shallow center to move Parker Webster over to second after he coaxed a walk. Matos stepped into the batter's box and ripped a 1-2 pitch into the left-field corner to score both runners on his seventh double of the year.
Houston would cut into the Knights' lead by pushing across a run on an RBI grounder after an infield single, sacrifice bunt and balk put Josh Vidales in scoring position.
In the sixth, Chris Taladay (1-for-4) continued his career-long hit streak with a single to left-center to make it 20-straight with a base-knock. He joins Chris Duffy (2007-10) and Colin Arnold (2008-09) with the fourth-longest streak at UCF dating back to 1995.
Matulis buckled down in the seventh with a runner at second and one out by striking out a pair to end the Cougars' threat. He utilized a nifty pick-off move to catch Houston's Kyle Survance trying to steal in the eighth prior to retiring his final batter on a grounder to second.
With two outs in the bottom-half of the frame, UCF got key insurance runs after Webster was plunked. Vasquez, already owning 10 RBI in C-USA games, made it 11 with a double to the right-field corner for his team-leading 13th double this year. Gordon tacked on another run with a single through the left side to push the UCF lead to 4-1.
Rookie RHP Zac Favre would make his 24th appearance of the year and close out the Cougars, but not without a little drama as they plated one and had the tying run at the plate prior the Jacksonville native making Price Jacobs his 49th strikeout victim of the year for his third save of 2013.
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