March 21, 2014
By Andrew Jennette
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Friday night may have been a new beginning in a new conference for the UCF baseball team, but it was a familiar result as junior Eric Skoglund dazzled with a two-hitter in a 7-1 victory over Cincinnati. The lefty ace became the first Knight since Mark Michael in 2003 to pitch consecutive complete games.
"I thought Skog pitched great tonight," head coach Terry Rooney said. "He made some adjustments as the game went on and we got some clutch two-out hits when we needed it. Since the time he got back here in the fall, Skog has worked so hard behind the scenes. He cares so much and he's a total team guy. He's a guy who deserves it because of his hard work. I'm very proud of him."
Skoglund (3-0) allowed just the pair of hits and one unearned run with no walks and eight strikeouts over his dominant nine-inning effort. The Sarasota native faced just three hitters over the minimum and lowered his season ERA to 1.76.
"Our hitting and defense were unbelievable tonight," Skoglund said. "The guys did a great job of coming up with clutch, two-out hits and it was definitely huge to get a win going into tomorrow. Winning in Miami was a big momentum boost for us, but we're just trying to get better every day. Now that it's conference play, it's a whole new season."
The top of the Knights' (11-12, 1-0) lineup was outstanding for the second-straight game. Juniors Dylan Moore and Derrick Salberg combined to go 7-for-9 with five runs scored out of the top two spots in the order. Moore racked up three hits, giving him a team-high 12 multi-hit games on the year, and scored three runs.
Salberg extended his hitting streak to 11 with a first-inning base hit and tied his career-high with four knocks overall. The Kelso, Wash., native has been on fire since his return from injury, smacking 10 hits and drawing three walks in his last five games.
"Dylan has had two good games in a row. I thought his at-bats and our at-bats as a team got better as the game went on which I was proud of," Rooney said. "Derrick is a great player and he's having a really good year for us. He can run and when you have that kind of runner, it forces the defense to do some things. He's been a spark for us."
For the second-consecutive game, the Black and Gold jumped on their opponents early, scoring the game's first run in the home half of the first on a sacrifice fly by junior James Vasquez. The Palm City native went 1-for-3 with three RBIs.
The Bearcats (8-12, 0-1) tied things up in the third, but UCF would storm right back with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame when Vasquez hit an RBI double to score Moore and junior Tommy Williams brought junior Erik Barber home on a sacrifice fly.
The Knights broke the game open in the bottom of the seventh, taking advantage of a Cincinnati miscue to score three runs. After Moore drew a walk and Salberg singled, Barber dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third-base line. Cincinnati's pitcher attempted a force play with a throw to third, but it sailed wide into left field. The error allowed both runners to score and Barber to scamper all the way around to third. Vasquez then lifted his second sacrifice fly of the evening to right that scored Barber and gave UCF a 6-1 edge.
Moore and Salberg capped off the scoring for the Knights in the eighth with back-to-back doubles.
Game two between UCF and Cincinnati will take place Saturday afternoon with a 4 p.m. first pitch. Junior Spencer Davis will take the mound for the Knights looking for his third victory of the season.
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