Luna's Three-Run Homer Allows No. 6 Rice to Defeat UCF, 4-2


April 21, 2007

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Houston, Texas (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF baseball team took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning vs. No. 6 Rice Saturday in Houston, but was unable to pull off the upset over the Conference USA leader in a 4-2 loss. With the defeat, the Knights moved their record to 18-22 on the season and 1-10 in the league, while Rice improved to 32-11 overall and 12-2 in C-USA action.

The first three batters of the sixth inning became the only problem Kyle Sweat would encounter in his outing vs. the Owls. The righty pitched five scoreless innings before allowing a three-run homer that would give Rice the lead for good. Sweat eventually finished his afternoon tossing 6.0 frames, striking out three to fall to 3-3 on the season.

Just like game one of the series, Tyson Auer was able to extend his hitting streak in his first at-bat. The center fielder hit a two-hopper to third base in the opening inning and beat out the throw to improve his streak to 15 games, the longest UCF stretch since Clay Timpner had a base hit in 19-straight outings in 2004.

Chris Duffy provided the initial offense in Saturday's game against Rice starter Ryne Tacker (8-1), drilling a 0-2 double to the warning track in left center to lead off the second. After he traveled to third on a ground out, Eric Kallstrom was issued a free pass and Brandon Romans drove in Duffy by way of a fielder's choice to give UCF the 1-0 lead.

Sweat breezed through the first four innings, but his pitch count was getting high. In the fifth, the Owls were finally able to put two aboard for the first time on a hit by pitch and a walk with two outs. Following a meeting on the mound with pitching coach Craig Cozart, Sweat induced Tyler Henley to fly out on the first pitch to keep Rice scoreless.

UCF came back with another run in the sixth to bring its advantage to 2-0. Ryan Richardson laced a one-out double to left and a ground out to short pushed him over to third. Now with two away, Kiko Vazquez crushed the first pitch he saw through the right side for his 30th RBI of the season.

Rice did not want the Knights to start running away, and in the bottom of the sixth, took the lead thanks to the long ball. Joe Savery got it going on a double and Jess Buenger singled to place runners at first and third. Aaron Luna brought them both in by sending a 1-1 pitch into the trees that line the right-field wall.

Sweat took a seat to start the seventh, where Rice scored an insurance run with two down off the UCF pen to make it 4-2. Owls' reliever Cole St. Clair limited the Knights to just one hit over the final three innings to earn the save.

The third and final game of the series is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. The Knights finally return home Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. showdown with USF. For the latest news and information on the Golden Knights, tickets or apparel log on to www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF athletics.

Game Notes
WP: Ryne Tacker (8-1), 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
LP: Kyle Sweat (3-3), 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
SV: Cole St. Clair (2), 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
- Chris Duffy's double in the second inning was his first extra-base hit since March 26.
- Aaron Luna's three-run homer in the sixth was the first dinger Kyle Sweat had given up all season. Sweat went 41.1-straight innings this year without watching an opponent hit one over the fence.
- Kyle Sweat has lasted at least 6.0 innings in each of his previous three starts.
- UCF fell to 1-8 all-time against Rice, and 2-4 vs. ranked teams in 2007.
- Austin Hudson pitched 1.1 scoreless innings of relief and had one strikeout for the Knights.
- Saturday's game time was 2:07, the second-shortest nine-inning game of the season (2:05 vs. Maryland Feb. 18).