April 26, 2014
By Andrew Jennette
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The No. 22 UCF baseball team battled back from two separate deficits to earn its seventh-consecutive weekend series victory with a 4-3 win over Rutgers on Saturday evening at the baseball complex. Junior James Vasquez provided the big hit with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning.
The Knights (27-16, 14-3 American Athletic Conference) played in their ninth extra-inning contest of the season, tying Southern Illinois for the most extra-inning games in the country.
Our guys were certainly relentless in sticking with it, head coach Terry Rooney said after the game. They were extremely tough today, played every single pitch to the end and got the big hit when it mattered. I didn't think we played particularly well in some of the aspects of the game fundamentally, however, I was extremely happy with the way these guys competed all the way to the end. They did a great job.
Vasquez's heroics were set up in the 11th after a one-out single by junior Derrick Salberg (3-for-5, 1 R, 1 RBI), followed by a pair of wild pitches that moved the Kelso, Wash., native to third base. From there, Vasquez did the rest as he ripped a 1-1 pitch into the gap in left-center that set off a mob scene at the plate and behind second base.
I didn't come through with the bases loaded in the seventh, Vasquez said. I told myself I wasn't going to make an out in that situation again so I looked for a pitch to drive and put a good swing on it. I was able to hit it hard. Our goal is to win every series and we were able to do that tonight.
Trailing 3-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth, UCF was able to tie the game by taking advantage of a Scarlet Knights (19-21, 6-7) miscue with some aggressive base running. Junior JoMarcos Woods (1-for-2, 1 R) hit what should have been an inning-ending grounder to first. The ball, however, was misplayed by the first baseman and Woods raced all the way around to third on the play. The next batter was junior Jordan Savinon and he tied the game with a clutch RBI single up the middle.
Junior Zach Rodgers (5-1) got the victory after tossing three scoreless innings of relief. The Glendale, Ariz., native entered the game in the top of the ninth and allowed just two hits while striking out a pair. UCF's jack of all trades lowered his ERA to 1.46, best on the team.
Sophomore Ryan Meyer got the start and allowed one run on two hits over 3.1 innings of work. Junior Parker Thomas and freshman Trent Thompson combined to allow one earned run in 4.2 innings out of the pen, effectively bridging the gap to Rodgers. Thompson and Thomas lead the Knights with 23 and 21 relief appearances respectively.
After giving up the game's first run in the top of the fourth, the Black and Gold responded immediately as junior Erik Barber (1-for-3, 3 BB) hammered the first pitch of the home half of the frame well over the wall in left for a solo homer. The Lakeland native extended his career-high in long balls with his fourth of the year and now leads the Knights with 17 extra-base hits.
The series finale between UCF and Rutgers will take place Sunday afternoon with a 1 p.m. first pitch. Young fans in attendance can enjoy a fun-filled Easter egg hunt immediately following the game.
Single-game tickets can be purchased by calling the UCFAA Sales & Service Office at (407) UCF-1000. Stay up-to-date on all the latest baseball news by following the team on Twitter @UCF_Baseball, Facebook and Instagram.