Houck's Career-High 12 Strikeouts Guide UCF to 8-2 Win vs. Pitt


March 11, 2008

Final Stats

Box Score in PDF Format

Wednesday's Preview vs. Stetson in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Sophomore lefty Mitch Houck (Weston, Fla.) struck out a career-high 12 batters in just 6.0 innings to help the No. 20 UCF baseball team defeat Pittsburgh, 8-2, Tuesday at Jay Bergman Field. The win over the Panthers (3-7) boosts the Knights' record to 12-1, and they remained perfect at home with a 12-0 mark.

Houck (1-0) picked up his first win of the year, fanning at least two batters in five of his six innings and walking just one overall. The Knights' offense scored in each of the first five innings and completed the game with 13 hits. UCF was paced by junior Colin Arnold's 3-for-5 performance, where the left fielder was able to stretch his hitting streak to 13 games. Senior Ryan Richardson, meanwhile, was 3-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored.

"It was a really strange game," said Houck, whose previous best strikeout game was 11 against Stetson in 2006. "I haven't really pitched in a game like that before where the team was just hitting my fastball all over the field. I just had to resort to my other three pitches tonight and they weren't hitting them. There were a lot of hits but I made the pitches when I had to and that's what matters."

Also bringing out the lumber vs. the Panthers were junior Eric Kallstrom and senior Tim Russell. Kallstrom crushed a two-run homer in the second, his first of the year, while Russell drilled his first career dinger in the third, also a two-run job.

"That felt great," admitted Russell. "He just grooved a pitch right down the middle and I just hit it. I wanted to leave here with at least one home run in my career, and I got it. Hopefully there is more to come, but I got that monkey off my back."

Although Pittsburgh was late arriving due to traffic, its bats arrived in the top of the first as Danny Lopez led off the game with homer to left off Houck. When UCF stepped into the box, it tied it up without the benefit of a hit vs. Hugh Henry. Following a hit by pitch to senior Dwayne Bailey and a walk issued to classmate Tyson Auer, Henry balked to put both in scoring position. Arnold then did his job, sending a ball the opposite way as his groundout to second permitted Bailey to come across.

The Knights were not satisfied with a tie game, though, quickly making it 4-1 in the second. Russell got it started by dropping a single into center, and scored by way of a base hit from Richardson and two separate errors by center fielder Jordan Herr. Now up 2-1, Kallstrom blasted the first pitch he saw down the left-field line for his ninth career home run. Not to be outdone, in the third inning Arnold got aboard by doubling down the line in left, and two batters later Russell sent a two-run shot of his own over the right-field fence for a 6-1 lead.

Pitt may have tallied one run in the fourth thanks to a solo jack by Nick Mullins, but Arnold added a two-out RBI single to score Bailey in the UCF half of the inning to bring the advantage to 7-2. Junior Brandon Romans stretched it even further with a two-out double in the fifth, scoring Richardson who tripled earlier in the inning.

A six-run lead was all Houck needed to securely fasten down the victory. Sophomore Matt Goodyear came on in relief and struck out three in 2.0 innings of work, and junior Matt Manning made his first appearance on the mound, tossing a scoreless ninth to sew it up.

UCF will shoot for its first road win of the season when it travels to DeLand Wednesday for a 7 p.m. showdown against Stetson. The Knights have played the Hatters 108 times since 1975 (UCF leads, 60-48), and every season dating back to 1985, as UCF has battled Stetson on the diamond more than any other program.

Season tickets as well as single-game tickets to check out UCF baseball this year are currently available by contacting the UCF Ticket Office at 407-823-1000, or by going online at www.ucfathletics.com, the official site for UCF varsity sports. Also check out UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

Game Notes
Pittsburgh - 3-7 Overall, 0-0 Big East
No. 20 UCF - 12-1 Overall, 0-0 Conference USA
WP: Mitch Houck (1-0), 6.0 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 K
LP: Hugh Henry (0-1), 3.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
- The 12-1 start ties for the fourth-best beginning to a season (of one loss teams) in Conference USA history. It also equals the best 13-game start in the Knight record books.
- Mitch Houck's 12 strikeouts marked the first time this year a UCF pitcher notched double-digit Ks.
- Shane Brown witnessed his career-high 14-game hitting streak (dating back to 2007) come to an end.
- Danny Lopez leadoff homer for Pitt was the first time since March 5, 2006, that an opponent led off a game with a dinger (Monmouth's Nick Massari).
- Mitch Houck picked off Jordan Herr in the top of the fourth for his third pick off of the season. Pitt head coach Joe Jordano argued it was a balk, and he was eventually ejected from the game.
- Tim Russell tied a career-high with two hits.
- All of Pittsburgh's outs came by way of the strikeout, groundout, caught stealing or pick off.
- Every Pittsburgh starter struck out at least once.
- UCF is now 10-0 all-time vs. Pitt. Tuesday was the first time the teams had met since 1991.