UCF Defeated By Southern Miss at C-USA Championship, 8-5


May 21, 2008

Final Stats

Box Score in PDF Format

NEW ORLEANS, La. (www.ucfathletics.com) - After erasing an early 5-0 deficit, the No. 7 seed UCF baseball team could not complete the comeback in an 8-5 loss to No. 2 Southern Miss Wednesday. It was the Knights' first game of the 2008 Entergy Conference USA Championship in New Orleans, and they will now move on to the loser's bracket to square off against either No. 3 Tulane or No. 6 Marshall Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET.

The loss for the Knights dropped their record to 31-26, while the Golden Eagles moved closer to 40 wins at 39-18.

"When you spot them five runs, it's tough," said interim head coach Craig Cozart. "But I was proud of our guys to even it up at 5-5 in the middle, and then (USM) squeaked back with a couple of runs. That's baseball. If we don't spot them those five runs, it's a different story."

First baseman Kiko Vazquez was able to extend his season-long hitting streak to nine games in the contest, and the junior has now posted at least one hit in 16 of 17 games since returning from a preseason injury April 19. Starting pitcher Kyle Sweat (5-5) lasted 5.1 innings, giving up seven runs on 10 hits and striking out a pair.

UCF surrendered at least one run in the first frame for the fourth time in the last five games when Bo Davis led off with a single off Sweat and James Ewing later brought him around on a single to left. The Golden Eagles eventually took a commanding 5-0 lead by plating four more runs.

Facing righty Josh Billeaud, who did not meet the Knights in the regular season, UCF attempted to cut into the USM advantage by putting two runners aboard in the second with one out. However, the junior hurler quickly retired the next two batters to keep his 5-0 cushion.

Following a quiet third, though, UCF tried once again in the fourth, earning an infield single by Vazquez a double down the line in right off the bat of sophomore Shane Brown to kick start the stanza. Senior Ryan Richardson then came through with a sacrifice fly to right center, and junior Robert Lara allowed Brown to touch home by lacing a 0-1 single up the middle.

Looking for more, designated hitter Chris Duffy hammered a ground-rule double to the right-center gap that actually turned into bad luck. The ball took a hop off the wall, went straight up and hit a screen that is attached to the fence, forcing Duffy to stay at second and Lara, who was on his way home, to return to third. Billeaud did end up loading the bases by hitting Eric Kallstrom, which caused USM to go to the pen in favor of Jonathan Johnston. Senior Dwayne Bailey dug in against the reliever and worked the count to 3-0 and finally reached on an error by third baseman Chris Matesich. Trailing 5-3 and with the bases still juiced, junior Colin Arnold could not add on any more by hitting into an inning-ending double play.

Watching Sweat settle in a bit on the hill, UCF returned to the dish in the fifth against the side-armer Johnston. Senior Tyson Auer became the first baserunner on a leadoff walk, Vazquez singled to center and shortstop Brian Dozier booted a potential double-play ball to fill up the bases yet again. Although Richardson then fell behind 0-2, the right fielder sent a grounder the opposite way that also appeared to be a double play. Second baseman James Ewing pitched it to Dozier for the force at second, but threw it away at first to permit two runners to score and the 5-0 USM lead to disappear.

The Golden Eagles were able to recapture their advantage with a two-out rally in the home half of the fifth, as Matesich drilled a bases-loaded single up the middle to make it 7-5. Matesich sealed it in the seventh by crushing a solo homer off Caleb Graham to right field. The Knights hoped for one last comeback by bringing the tying run to the plate in the eighth only to witness Tyler Conn close the door en route to recording his nation-leading 17th save.

While UCF will play next on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET, Southern Miss works in the winner's bracket vs. either Tulane or Marshall Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

For more information on the 2008 UCF baseball program, head to www.ucfathletics.com. Also check out UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

Game Notes
No. 7 UCF - 31-26 Overall
No. 2 Southern Miss - 39-18 Overall
WP: Wade Weathers (3-1), 3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
LP: Kyle Sweat (5-5), 5.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
- UCF has given up a run in the first inning in nine of its last 12 games. The first frame has now been the most productive inning for an opponent this year as opposing hitters have scored 57 runs in the first.
- Wednesday marked the first time UCF and Southern Miss met on a neutral field.
- The Knights moved to 0-3 in their last three opening games of a conference tournament. They also fell to 1-3 in the two seasons they have qualified for the C-USA Championship.
- UCF is now forced to win five-straight games in the next four days in order to claim the C-USA title.
- Southern Miss outhit UCF, 12-8. It was the fifth-consecutive outing an opponent collected at least 10 hits, while it also was the fourth time in the last five games the Knights were outhit.
- Shane Brown and Robert Lara each notched two hits, while Ryan Richardson amassed two RBI vs. USM.