May 7, 2014
By Dan Forcella
BOCA RATON, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF baseball team avenged a 1-0 Tuesday night home loss to Florida Atlantic by defeating the Owls in Boca Raton by a score of 4-1 Wednesday behind a superb relief outing by junior Zach Rodgers.
The no. 26-ranked Knights (30-19) scored four runs on seven hits and no errors, as Rodgers improved to 6-1 on the season. The right-hander came in out of the pen with two outs in the first inning, and allowed one run while scattering five hits and striking out two in 5.2 innings.
I'm really proud of their effort tonight. That was a really big win, Head Coach Terry Rooney said after the game. Bouncing back from a tough game last night against a very, very good FAU team. To come down here on the road and do it, I thought the guys did a great job in a very important game for us.
The outing tonight by Zach Rodgers was one of the most courageous outings that I've ever seen in my entire career, Rooney went on to say. Coming in the first inning tonight and getting the job done - it was a total team effort - but I tell you, Zach Rodgers' outing was tremendous.
The Knights accumulated four hits through three innings, which was more than they had all of Tuesday night against the Owls. Kam Gellinger opened the third with one of those four hits, as he singled up the middle. After advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by JoMarcos Woods, Gellinger scored on an RBI single to left center by Derrick Salberg to give UCF a 1-0 lead.
UCF was able to extend its lead to 4-0 with three across in the top of the fifth. Brooks Morgan led off the frame with a single to right center, Gellinger walked, and Woods advanced the runners to second and third with his second sac bunt of the night.
After Andrew Archer came in as the Owls' third pitcher of the game, FAU forced Salberg into a fielder's choice for the second out of the inning. Erik Barber then worked a walk to load the bases.
James Vasquez drove in Gellinger and Salberg with a single to centerfield that put the Knights up 3-0. His 39th and 40th RBIs of the season were followed quickly by an Archer wild pitch that allowed Barber to score from third and give UCF the 4-0 advantage.
The Owls picked up one in the bottom of the fifth to make it 4-1, but that's as close as FAU would get as Rodgers, Thomas, and Thompson closed it out. Thomas didn't allow a hit and struck out two in the seventh, before Thompson earned his fifth save of the year allowing no runs on three hits in two innings of work.
No Knight finished with more than one hit, but it was Vasquez's lone single that drove in a pair of runs for UCF. Gellinger came across to score twice as he went 1-for-3 with a walk.
UCF will continue non-conference action this weekend with a three-game series against Presbyterian. The Knights and the Blue Hose will play Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. Saturday will be Citronaut Day at Jay Bergman Field.
We just have to play every game one game at a time, Rooney concluded. That's the bottom line. We've already talked about it. After midnight tonight we're going to move on to Presbyterian, and although we're in non-conference we'll treat this like a conference series, playing one game at a time. The mental approach needs to be the same.
Note: With two sacrifice hits on the day, Woods now has 26 in his career. It ties him with Odie Koehnke (1984-87) for the most ever at UCF.