May 23, 2014
By Dan Forcella
Box Score (pdf) | Box Score (html)
CLEARWATER, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The University of Houston bats came alive on Friday night as the no. 12-ranked Cougars defeated the UCF baseball team by a score of 13-8 in the Knights' final game of pool play at The American Championship.
First of all, I'd like to congratulate Houston, Head Coach Terry Rooney said after the game. They played a great game. They played better than us tonight. They really did. They have a great club and they played better than us in all aspects of the game tonight, so the credit goes to them.
Houston (43-15) scored five runs in the fifth inning to chase American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Eric Skoglund (9-3) from the game after allowing seven runs on 11 hits in just four and a third innings pitched.
The Knights (36-23) battled back, recording a four-run sixth inning behind a three-run home run by Erik Barber and a solo shot from Tommy Williams. UCF trailed 7-5 before the Cougars countered with four of their own in the top of the seventh.
Houston extended its lead to 13-5 before UCF came back again, this time with three runs in the eighth to cut it to 13-8 on a three-run shot to right by James Vasquez. It was Vasquez's second homer of the night, and the fourth for the Knights.
Collectively as a team we didn't play great tonight, but what we did do was battle, Rooney said. My goodness. We kept coming back, we scrapped and clawed with some incredible at-bats, and some incredible toughness. That's the fight these guys have.
The comeback rally fell short, though, as Houston closed it out for the 13-8 win and improved to 2-1 in the pool. The Knights had a chance to clinch a spot in Sunday's final, but instead fell to 2-1 in Pool B and will await the result of Saturday's game between UConn and Temple.
UCF will advance to the Championship Game if UConn defeats Temple, Saturday at 11 a.m. If that occurs, UCF, Houston, and UConn would be in a three-way tie at 2-1, and the Knights would advance due to being the highest seed.
If Temple tops the Huskies in possibly the program's final game ever, Houston would advance as the Cougars and the Knights would be in a two-way tie at 2-1. U of H would play in the final due to its win over UCF Friday evening.
If we play on Sunday, we're going for it, Rooney said. Obviously if we have an opportunity on that Sunday to win a championship, we're going to do whatever it takes.
Six different pitchers saw time out of the pen for the Knights after Skoglund left the game, with none throwing more than an inning. If UCF should make it to Sunday's final, the Knights will still have plenty of rested arms.
All eight of UCF's runs came off of the home run on Friday. It was the first four-home run game for the Knights since May 21, 2011 when UCF had five against Marshall.
Houston's Aaron Garza (8-4) earned the win after allowing four runs on six hits and striking out four in five innings pitched. Chase Wellbrock picked up his 12th save of the season in three innings of relief.
Kyle Survance had a great night at the plate, going four-for-six with four runs scored, but three other Cougars ended up with three hits in a game that saw UCF give up a season-high 20.