Rooney Wins Head Coaching Debut in 10-2 Victory Over VCU


Feb. 20, 2009

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Notes for Saturday's Game in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF baseball's fifth-largest crowd in program history filled the stands to witness head coach Terry Rooney pick up a victory in his first game, as the Knights took down Virginia Commonwealth, 10-2, on Opening Day Friday. A total of 1,897 fans packed the park and they were greeted by a UCF offense that posted 13 hits in the win.

"Obviously I'm very proud of the guys," said Rooney. "They've been waiting for this day for the last several months. We faced a very good starting pitcher from VCU (lefty Ian Thomas), and we don't have any left-handed pitchers on our team. So to go out on opening night and see a left-handed pitcher shows the intensity and focus of which are players had against him. They battled throughout the entire game.

"This morning I just tried to sit back for a few moments and really take it all in. I feel very fortunate to be the head baseball coach here at UCF. We've got a tremendous administration with Keith Tribble and Dave Hansen. They showed a lot of confidence in me and I told them when they hired me that I'm not going to let them down. And I don't plan to do that."

Making his second-career Opening Day start, senior Kyle Sweat retired the first five hitters he faced, including striking out three straight at one point. He would finish with 5.0 innings of work, giving up five hits, walking one and sitting down seven on strikes, which was one shy of his career-high.

Sweat was backed by offensive attack paced by senior Brandon Romans. The catcher matched a personal-best with three RBI, highlighted by a two-run blast in the seventh inning. Meanwhile, senior Eric Kallstrom wrapped up his evening with three hits and scored two runs.

Both pitchers looked very strong early on, as VCU managed just two hits through the first four innings and UCF notched its first hit in the bottom of the fourth against Thomas. That inning opened up when senior Colin Arnold was plunked by a pitch, and two batters later junior Chris Duffy blooped a single into left to put runners at the corners. Although senior Kiko Vazquez lined to second for the second out, Romans ripped the first pitch he saw into center to plate Arnold and give UCF a 1-0 lead.

VCU wasted little time trying to even it up in the top of the fifth, getting a leadoff single from Matt Leskiw. Following a fielder's choice that put Richard Gonzalez at first and one down, Andrew Dimino blasted a single to right. Arnold scooped up the ball, saw Gonzalez rounding second and fired a one-hopper to junior Shane Brown at third who easily tagged out the potential tying run.

That inning was not over, though. A pair of two-out singles allowed the Rams to load the bases, bringing up cleanup hitter Michael Cheatham. Opening up with a breaking ball to make it 0-1, Cheatham fouled off the next pitch before watching the third strike paint the top half of the zone, ending the threat.

Thomas then got into some major trouble in the home half, as the Knights hoped for some breathing room. With runners at first and third and no outs, Thomas was called for a balk to make it 2-0, then senior Nick Choto and Arnold both picked up infield hits. With the bags full, Brown had a 10-pitch at-bat that closed out with the junior cranking a single to right-center. UCF added another run on a bases-loaded walk to Duffy, giving way to Seth Cutler-Voltz in the pen. Even with a new pitcher on the hill, Vazquez drove in Arnold on a single of his own, and the fifth run of the frame touched home on a double-play ball.

Now holding a 6-0 advantage, the Knights went to the pen as well for the sixth inning, where sophomore Evan Stobbs surrendered one run to put VCU on the board. The Rams put across one more in the seventh on a sac fly, but the momentum would be short lived. With two down in the bottom of the seventh, Vazquez lifted a ball into center where Dimino camped under yet could not come down with the third out. Romans made VCU pay, driving the next pitch well over the left-field wall, past West Plaza Drive and into the woods to stretch the lead to 8-2.

The game's scoring came to a close in the eighth, where Choto tallied a RBI base hit and Brown connected for a sacrifice fly. Stobbs went on to earn his first collegiate save by pitching at least the final three innings, going 4.0 frames with three strikeouts and no walks.

UCF's four-game series with the Rams continues Saturday at 4 p.m.

Baseball season and single game tickets are on sale now for the 2009 campaign. Call the UCF Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000 for more information. Fans may also visit UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, and is the home of UCF's online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

Game Notes
Virginia Commonwealth - 0-1
UCF - 1-0
WP: Kyle Sweat (1-0), 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
LP: Ian Thomas (0-1), 4.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
SV: Evan Stobbs (1), 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
-The Knights moved their record to 21-16 all-time on Opening Day.
-Friday marked the first meeting between UCF and VCU.
-Senior right fielder Colin Arnold had one outfield assist last year (while playing left field), but picked up his first of 2009 Friday when he threw out Richard Gonzalez at third base in the fifth inning.
-Mostly used as a pinch-runner his first two seasons, senior Nick Choto made his third-career start Friday, his first since 2007, and also notched his first-career hit and RBI in the victory.
-The attendance of 1,897 was the third largest for a home opener, placing behind the 2,170 vs. FIU in 2001 and the 1,922 vs. LSU in 204.
-UCF starting pitcher Kyle Sweat completed his first outing of the year with 76 pitches, 55 for strikes.
-In Sweat's last two season-opening appearances (vs. Florida A&M Feb. 23, 2008 and Friday night), he has combined to pitch 10.0 scoreless innings, striking out 15 batters.
-Four of UCF's five head coaches in program history have now claimed a victory in their coaching debuts.
-The Knights' pitchers of Sweat and Stobbs combined for 10 strikeouts and just one walk.