UCF Cannot Hold On To 7-5 Seventh-Inning Lead in Rubber Match Against Rice


April 18, 2010

Final Stats

UCF vs. Rice
April 18, 2010
From Orlando, Fla.
Team R H E
Rice 13 14 3
UCF 8 17 3

WP: Doug Simmons (2-0), 0.1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 K
LP: Bryan Brown (2-1), 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
SV: Tyler Duffey (2), 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 K

Game-Changing Moment
With runners at the corners and one out, UCF trailed 8-7 in the seventh inning and had Shane Brown at the dish. Facing Tyler Duffey, Ronnie Richardson took off from first on a 3-2 count only to witness Brown's hard liner be snared by Anthony Rendon at third, who easily fired over to first for the double play. That would be the Knights' last chance at getting the series victory.

Three Stars
First Star: RICE SS Rick Hague, 3-for-6, 1 RBI, 3 R, 2B, HR
Second Star: RICE 3B Anthony Rendon, 3-for-5, 2 RBI, snagged the liner that started the key double play in the 7th inning
Third Star: UCF 2B Austin Johnston, 2-for-4, 2-run HR, 2 R, SAC

By Brian Ormiston

Box Score in PDF Format

Orlando, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF was unable to hold on to a 7-5 lead in the seventh inning in a 13-8 loss to Rice Sunday in Orlando. The win gave the Owls (23-15, 8-4) the series over the Knights as they fell to 24-14 on the year and 6-6 in Conference USA.

UCF also suffered an unfortunate break as it tried to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Trailing 8-7 and with runners at the corners and one away, Shane Brown sent a hard line drive with the runner moving from first that looked destined for left field. Yet it was snagged by third baseman Anthony Rendon who easily threw over to first for the double play. That would turn the momentum completely around, and the Owls would cruise the rest of the way.

The Knights rapped out 17 hits Sunday, marking their most hits in a game against Rice as a member of C-USA. Leading the way, Darnell Sweeney, Beau Taylor and Chris Duffy each produced three hits, while Austin Johnston delivered a two-run homer that tied it at 4-4 in the third inning.

After getting his sixth save of the year Saturday, UCF freshman pitcher Joe Rogers made his third start of 2010 Sunday and got through the first inning by leaving two on base. When the Knights came to the plate in the bottom half, Sweeney and Taylor greeted Abe Gonzales with one-out singles. Even though the hit-and-run did not work with Ryan Breen at the plate as he swung through a fastball and Sweeney was out at third, Breen made up for it by lining a RBI single into center.

The inning continued on a hard single to right from Duffy, and with four hits allowed in the frame, the Owls went to the pen for Jared Rogers and a righty-righty situation with Jonathan Griffin. The move paid off as Griffin bounced into a fielder's choice to leave two men aboard.

Rice fired back in the second, putting the first five on base to chase Rogers from the mound. It would score three times before there was an out, but Chase Bradford kept them off the board the rest of the inning.

A pair of fielding errors gave UCF two runners in its version of the second, and a walk filled them up with two outs. Taylor would then cut the deficit in half on a chopper off the glove of a diving Jimmy Comerota at first for the RBI infield single, but the Knights left them loaded.

By not being able to tie it up or even take the lead, the Knights watched Rice's Rick Hague lead off the third with a solo homer on a 0-2 pitch. Back to a two-run margin, it took a UCF freshman to make it a brand new ballgame as it scored for the third-straight inning, this time on a two-out, two-run blast off the bat of Johnston. It was the second baseman's third homer of the season.

That would be short-lived, when in the fifth Rice went back on top at 5-4 on a RBI groundout from Chad Mozingo with the bases jammed. The Knights attempted to respond in the sixth, placing runners at the corners with one away. Southpaw Holt McNair then toed the rubber to face lefty-counterpart Taylor, yet this time it did not work as the UCF catcher ripped a RBI single to center.

Still with just one out and two on, McNair picked up the second out to give way to lefty sidearmer Doug Simmons. And once again that move failed as Duffy drove a two-run double the opposite way to left that Jeremy Rathjen saw glance off his glove and drop to the warning track.

With its first lead since the first inning, UCF was unable to hold on to the 7-5 advantage in the top of the seventh. Rice opened it by loading the bases with no outs on a HBP, single and an error, and went on to score three of its own.

Playing from behind again at 8-7, Chris Taladay hoped to start another rally in the home half of the seventh thanks to a first-pitch single to right. A sac bunt was laid down by Johnston to move Taladay into scoring position before Richardson drove a single to left. Now with Knights at first and third, that was when Rendon snagged Brown's line drive for the inning-ending double play.

And by keeping momentum on their side, the Owls took advantage in the eighth, scoring a slew of two-out, unearned runs to ultimately wrap up the win.

Now at the halfway point of the C-USA schedule, UCF will embark on a five-game week beginning with a road tilt at North Florida Tuesday before hosting Bethune-Cookman Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. It then travels to West Virginia to meet Marshall at Charleston's Appalachian Power Park Friday-Sunday.

Ticket plans for the 2010 campaign are currently on sale. To purchase tickets, call 407-823-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com. And for the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - 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 UCFPhotos.com and become a follower of the Knights on Twitter and Facebook.

Game Notes
Rice - 23-15 Overall, 8-4 Conference USA
UCF - 24-14 Overall, 6-6 Conference USA
-Although rain hovered over the Orlando area, Sunday's crowd was still 1,271. Combined with the previous two games, the series drew 4,660 fans to the ballpark, marking the fourth-largest series in UCF history.
-The Knights used eight pitchers in the series finale.
-Rice left 13 runners on base, while the Knights left 10 on board.
-UCF finished by outhitting Rice, 17-14.