UCF Edged by Southern Miss, 6-3


March 27, 2009

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A solo homer from Brian Dozier ended a 3-3 eighth-inning tie as Southern Miss topped the UCF baseball team, 6-3, Friday in Orlando. The Knights (7-18, 0-4) will now play a doubleheader with the Golden Eagles (14-9, 2-2) Saturday starting at 4 p.m. to conclude the three-game Conference USA series.

Senior starter Caleb Graham received his first Friday night start and looked very strong on the hill. Graham fooled the Southern Miss lineup the first time through the order, sitting down all nine batters in a perfect three-inning performance. That included four strikeouts and a seven-pitch second inning. The righty finished with 5.0 innings of work, striking out six and surrendering three runs on four hits.

"I thought Caleb Graham did a fantastic job," said head coach Terry Rooney. "It was a big night for him and he really answered the bell for us. As a starting pitcher, it's all about giving your team a chance to win, and he did that tonight. What it comes down to is this. It's not the effort of these guys. But to win games you have to do the little things, and we didn't cash in with a man on third base and less than two outs. Somebody needs to get up there with the bases loaded and drive the ball into the gap to give us some momentum. And college baseball is about momentum."

A single in the first inning kept junior Shane Brown's hitting streak alive at 16 games for the Black and Gold, while senior Colin Arnold's streak reached eight games Friday evening.

After Graham retired the side in order in the top of the first, highlighted by two strikeouts, the offense got to work by quickly loading the bases with one down against JR Ballinger. Senior Josh Siebenaler was the first to get aboard with a walk, Brown singled off Ballinger's leg and senior Brandon Romans also was issued a free pass. Now facing senior Kiko Vazquez, the righty got the UCF first baseman to ground to short, where Brian Dozier witnessed the ball fly through his legs. The error permitted two runs to score.

The second time through the order proved to be a little different for Graham. In the fourth, the first two Golden Eagles got aboard by way of a walk and single, and they eventually loaded the bases with one down. On the second offering, Joey Archer dropped a two-run single into right-center to tie things up at 2-2. Graham did get the final two outs when Archer was caught stealing and Corey Stevens went down on strikes.

UCF attempted to answer in the bottom of the fourth when it put runners at the corners with one out, yet saw Ballinger escape thanks to a 5-4-3 double play with freshman Jake Huxtable at the dish. When USM returned to the plate, it took the lead on a two-out RBI double from Taylor Walker.

Once again the Knights were back at it in the fifth. Started up on a one-out walk to senior Eric Kallstrom, senior Colin Arnold drove a double just inside the third-base bag to place two in scoring position. Siebenaler then came through with a single up the middle to tie it back up, but Brown grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and third.

A pair of relievers then battled it out for both teams. UCF freshman hurler Anthony Figliolia retired all six hitters he took on in the sixth and seventh frames, while lefty Cody Schlagel had no trouble getting five quick outs. However with two down in the seventh, the Knights filled the bags with two walks and an infield single from Siebenaler. All three would remain stranded, though.

With UCF unable to capitalize on its scoring chances, the Golden Eagles finally took charge when Brian Dozier blasted a solo homer to left with two outs in the eighth. USM ensured itself of the win by adding two more in the ninth.

Saturday's twin-bill kicks off at 4 p.m. with the second game set to start 45 minutes after game one concludes. The two teams are now playing a doubleheader due to the threat of inclement weather Sunday morning.

Baseball season ticket packages as well as single game tickets are on sale 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
Southern Miss - 14-9 Overall, 2-2 Conference USA
UCF - 7-18 Overall, 0-4 Conference USA
WP: Cody Schlagel (4-1), 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
LP: Anthony Figliolia (1-1), 3.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
- Caleb Graham has now pitched at least 5.0 innings in three of his four starts this year.
- Shane Brown's 16-game hitting streak is one shy of entering the top five all-time at UCF. Standing in fifth place, Kiko Vazquez posted a 17-game streak during the 2007 season.
- Josh Siebenaler and D.J. Hicks both connected for two hits.
- Southern Miss finished with eight hits compared to UCF's seven.
- The Knights did not make an error in the field for the second-straight game.