No. 25 UCF Baseball off to 8-0 Start for First Time in School History


March 4, 2008

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Down 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, the No. 25 UCF baseball team scored one in the seventh and another in the eighth and held on to defeat Jacksonville, 5-4, Tuesday at Jay Bergman Field. The win insured the Knights of their best start in program history as they improved to 8-0 on the season. Meanwhile, the loss was JU's first of the year (6-1).

"They've got a nice ball club, but our kids kept it close enough to win and when they got the opportunity, they took advantage of it," said head coach Jay Bergman. "There's a lot of baseball left. We're down to 48 games now. But to be 8-0 right now is a nice tribute to the players."

Starting pitcher Mitch Houck did not get a decision after tossing 6.0 innings, giving up two earned runs, no walks and striking out nine, two off his career-high. Sophomore Austin Hudson (1-0) secured the win by striking out three and not allowing an earned run in 2.0 innings.

Sophomore Shane Brown kept his hitting streak alive, stretching it 10 games (dating to 2007) by going 2-for-2, highlighted by his first career home run in the seventh inning which tied the score at 4-4.

Jacksonville wasted little time taking a 2-0 lead, earning an infield single and back-to-back doubles to get the first inning going off Houck. Eventually the Dolphins had runners at the corners with nobody on and pitching coach Craig Cozart visited the mound to talk to his hurler. The meeting worked as Houck struck out Alex Martinez and induced Chris Connelly to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

After UCF could not score with the bases juiced and two down in its half of the first against freshman Sean Green, the Knights reloaded the bases in the second, this time with nobody out. Junior Josh Siebenaler put his team on the board on a groundout to third, scoring senior Ryan Richardson, and senior Dwayne Bailey tied it at 2-2 by ripping a RBI base hit to right allowing junior Eric Kallstrom to touch home. To conclude the scoring, junior Colin Arnold drove a two-out single to left as junior Rob Lara came across.

Houck cruised until there were two outs in the sixth, when Jacksonville evened things up at 3-3 on back-to-back errors by the UCF defense. When Hudson came on in relief in the seventh, the Knights committed another error to permit the go-ahead run to score.

However, JU's momentum screeched to a halt when Brown led off the bottom of the seventh and sent a 1-1 pitch from Matt Tomshaw deep over the left-field fence to tie it yet again at 4-4.

"I've been seeing the ball well lately and I'm just keeping my approach," said Brown. "It's working for me right now so I'm going to keep doing it. I knew I hit it well but I didn't know it was gone right away until I almost touched first base."

When the eighth rolled around, Lara kick-started the frame with a double to right and reached third on a groundout from Siebenaler. Bailey then strode to the plate and sent a dribbler to first that was slow enough to permit Lara to score, making it 5-4. That set it up for closer Justin Weiss, who notched his second save of 2008 by shutting the door in the ninth.

UCF hits the road for the first time this year when it completes the home-and-home series with the Dolphins Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Jacksonville.

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
Jacksonville - 6-1 Overall, 3-0 Atlantic Sun
No. 25 UCF - 8-0 Overall, 0-0 Conference USA
WP: Austin Hudson (1-0), 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
LP: Steven Eagerton (0-1), 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
SV: Justin Weiss (2), 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
- The last time UCF won at least eight games in a row was a nine-game streak March 5-18, 2005.
- UCF was playing its first game as a ranked team since the 2005 season.
- Houck's nine strikeouts, including four straight at one point, were the most by a UCF pitcher this season.
- Knight pitchers totaled 13 strikeouts for the game, marking the eight-straight outing they have racked up double-digit strikeouts.
- Jacksonville did not hit a fly ball out to the outfield until the first batter of the top of the eighth. The Dolphins' first 21 outs occurred via the strikeout, ground out or line out to the infield.
- Dwayne Bailey was 1-for-3, stretching his overall hitting streak to nine games.
- Colin Arnold's hitting streak improved to eight games as he notched a single in Tuesday's game.