Johnston's Two-Out, Two-Run Single in the Eighth L

March 31, 2010

Final Stats

UCF at Bethune-Cookman
March 31, 2010
From Daytona Beach, Fla.

WP: Jack Sterritt (1-0), 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K
LP: Juan Perez (1-2), 1.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
SV: Matt Manning (2), 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K

Game-Changing Moment
In yet another wild affair against Bethune-Cookman, the Knights witnessed the Wildcats score four times in the bottom of the seventh to take a 7-4 lead. That's when the freshmen continued to produce as Darnell Sweeney and Ronnie Richardson each got aboard in the eighth. Shane Brown and Ryan Breen then notched RBI hits, but with two outs UCF still trailed 7-6. In came freshman Austin Johnston, who ripped a 1-0 pitch to center, giving his team the lead for good.

Three Stars
First Star: UCF SS Darnell Sweeney, 4-for-5, 3 R, SB
Second Star: UCF 2B Austin Johnston, 1-for-3, GW two-run single in 8th
Third Star: UCF RP Matt Manning, retired all 6 batters he faced with 3 Ks for the save

By Brian Ormiston

Box Score in PDF Format

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ( - After not converting on five scoring chances early in the game, UCF plated four runs in the seventh, four in the eighth and one in the ninth for a 9-7 victory at Bethune-Cookman Wednesday. It was the Knights (17-10) second-straight come-from-behind win over the Wildcats (15-13) in as many nights, as they trailed 3-0 early and 7-4 after seven.

Freshman Austin Johnston capped off the rally with a two-out, two-run single in the eighth to give UCF an 8-7 lead. Matt Manning closed the door by retiring all six hitters he faced in the final two innings for the save.

The Knights put runners in scoring position in eight of the nine innings Wednesday. It was not until the seventh that they lit up the scoreboard. Freshman Darnell Sweeney paced all hitters with his 4-for-5 performance, scoring three runs. Classmate Ronnie Richardson followed suit by going 3-for-4 with two runs.

Senior Shane Brown recorded three more hits against the Wildcats (15-13). The right fielder has pounded out at least two hits in 19 of the Knights' 27 games, while he also extended his hitting streak to 10 contests. Fellow senior Chris Duffy, meanwhile, pushed his streak to 17 games during Wednesday's outing.

Facing Bethune-Cookman's normal No. 1 weekend starter Ali Simpson, who got the nod due to the Wildcats having this weekend off, Brown was primed at giving the Knights the early lead in the first inning by sending a double to the wall in right with Chris Taladay on first. The freshman was waved around third and the throw made it to catcher Peter O'Brien who put the tag on Taladay but in the process dropped the ball. However the umpire ruled he had control when the tag was made, keeping UCF off the board.

With the Black and Gold being held scoreless, Bethune-Cookman took advantage of its first opportunity in the home half of the second against starter Matt Goodyear en route to plating two runs. The Wildcats produced another run in the fourth.

Trailing 3-0 in the fifth, UCF failed to convert in the fifth and sixth, but it did not quit. Sweeney led off the seventh on an infield single and after Richardson and Taladay notched base hits, the Knights refilled the bags with no outs. Simpson did pick up a strikeout, yet freshman Ryan Breen sent a first-pitch single up the middle to score a pair.

Still down by a run, Duffy came within inches of his 13th homer of the year, drilling a double off the right-field wall, allowing two more to score and giving UCF the 4-3 lead. The Black and Gold would eventually have runners at first and third with one away and could not add some insurance.

That would come back to haunt the Knights as B-CU jumped back on top thanks to four runs in the bottom of the seventh. In UCF's next trip to the dish, Sweeney and Richardson hoped to start another rally as they touched second and third with no outs. Righty Juan Perez got the first out then saw Brown and Breen rip RBI singles to right. A wild pitch and intentional walk to Duffy gave UCF three men aboard, and although Perez notched out No. 2, Johnston worked his magic by blasting a two-run single to center to retake the lead at 8-7.

And this time, the bullpen would settle things down as Manning jogged in and promptly struck out the side. That helped the Knights keep momentum and they would tack on one more in the ninth by way of Sweeney's fourth hit, a HBP to Richardson, a ground out from Taladay and a wild pitch.

Manning would cruise in the ninth, not permitting a Wildcat to reach base, to collect his second save of 2010.

The C-USA schedule resumes this weekend as the Knights welcome UAB to town. The two teams open the series Friday at 6:30 p.m. before playing a day-night doubleheader Saturday with games set for 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Ticket plans for the 2010 campaign are currently on sale. To purchase tickets, call 407-823-1000 or visit And for the latest news on the Knights, log on to - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit and become a follower of the Knights on Twitter and Facebook.

Game Notes
UCF - 17-10 Overall
Bethune-Cookman - 15-13 Overall
-Shane Brown's double in the first inning was the 46th of his career. That moved him into a tie for 10th on the UCF all-time list.
-Chris Duffy's 17-game hitting streak ties for the seventh longest in UCF history.
-Duffy collected two RBI vs. B-CU, giving him 148 in four years with the Knights. That moved him into a tie for seventh with Chad Mottola on the UCF career chart.
-Freshman Darnell Sweeney stole his 10th base of the year in the fifth inning.
-Three of UCF's 1-4 hitters in the lineup were freshmen: Ronnie Richardson, Chris Taladay and Ryan Breen. In all, the Knights used five freshmen in the starting lineup (Austin Johnston and Darnell Sweeney).
-Those five freshmen combined for 11 of UCF's 16 hits.