UCF Baseball Cannot Convert Scoring Chances in 2-1 Loss to UAB


March 31, 2007

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Birmingham, Ala. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF baseball team had plenty of chances to defeat UAB in game one of a doubleheader Saturday in Birmingham, Ala., but the Blazers managed to squeak out a 2-1 victory. UCF (16-15 overall, 0-5 Conference USA) and UAB (14-15, 2-0) will conclude the series later today with game two of Saturday's twin-bill.

With a drastically different lineup in place, UCF decided to go with junior Jaager Good (3-3) in the first game Saturday. The righty had a brilliant outing, going 7.0 innings and gave up just two runs on only five hits while striking out four.

UCF concluded the defeat by leaving eight runners in scoring position, seven of which came when there were less than two outs. The Knights managed to out-hit the Blazers, 11-6, marking the first time all year that they lost a game even though it posted more hits. Senior Matt Horwath tied a career-high with three base hits, including two doubles, to lead the UCF offense. In all, the Black and Gold matched a season-high with four doubles.

Horwath was making his first start since the opener vs. Houston March 23 and the sixth of his UCF career as the leadoff man. On the first pitch of the game, he cranked a double just inside the right-field line off lefty Shay Crawford (3-1). It was Horwath's third-straight at-bat that he notched a double (the previous two came in pinch-hitting situations). Following a successful sacrifice by Chadd Hartman, Tyson Auer dropped a RBI single in to center for the 1-0 lead. Kiko Vazquez hoped to continue the scoring, ripping a two-bagger to left field to put two in scoring position with just one down. However, the one run was all that the Knights could muster in the inning.

Entering the game with a minus-19 run differential in the first inning this year, UCF saw its lead disappear in the bottom half of the first Saturday as J.R. Bond picked up a two-out RBI base hit to even it up. Horwath tried to answer in the third, advancing to third base on a single and two UAB errors. Crawford escaped, though, thanks to a strikeout, pop up to shallow right and a 1-3 ground out to leave Horwath stranded.

UCF threatened again in the fourth, earning a base hit from Brandon Romans and a walk by Ryan Richardson to open the stanza. Crawford stood strong, picking up two quick outs only to see freshman Kyle Mills, who was making his first career start, deliver with his first collegiate base hit. Romans was waved in and a perfect throw home by right fielder Brint Hardy made sure the score remained 1-1. Hardy then came to the plate in the bottom of the fourth and gave the Blazers a 2-1 advantage on a RBI double. They could have extended the lead, but Good was able to leave two runners in scoring position with just one out.

As Crawford left the game before the seventh, Brandon Wallace came on and saw UCF put runners at the corners with just one out in both the seventh and eighth innings. Similar to Crawford's efforts earlier in the game, Wallace duplicated the feat by getting out of yet two more UAB jams, earning a rare batter's interference call and a ground out to leave the seventh unharmed, and a double-play ball in the eighth to keep the Blazers up by a run. Wallace then left Horwath at second after a one-out double in the ninth to preserve the win and grab the save.

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Game Notes
WP: Shay Crawford (3-1), 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
LP: Jaager Good (3-3), 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
- UCF was originally scheduled to not have any doubleheaders the entire year. Saturday marked the first twin-bill for the Knights since weather forced them and Florida International to play two Feb. 5, 2006, in Miami.
- Game one of the twin-bill was the first time Jaager Good did not pitch in the finale of a three-game series this season. All seven of his previous starts came on a Sunday.
- Three Golden Knights, Matt Horwath (No. 1), Tyson Auer (No. 3) and Kyle Mills (No. 9), all made their first appearances in a different spot in the order. While Mills made his first start of the year, Auer had been the leadoff man for 23 games and Horwath previously made just 10 starts, five of which were at the No. 6 hole.
- Matt Horwath was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning, ending a stretch of six-straight games that a Knight had not been plunked.
- Austin Hudson pitched a scoreless eighth inning, giving up just one hit.