UCF Blasts No. 29 Alabama with 18 Hits in 12-4 Victory


Feb. 27, 2011

Final Stats

UCF vs. Alabama
Feb. 27, 2011
From Mobile, Ala.
Team R H E
UCF 12 18 3
No. 29 Alabama 4 9 0

WP: Lively (1-0), 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
LP: Hawley (1-1), 3.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
SV: None

Game-Changing Moment
The third inning. After a rare two-RBI sacrifice fly by Beau Taylor, Ben Lively took a 4-1 lead to the mound in the bottom half. Although he walked two, with two outs shortstop Darnell Sweeney met Lively on the hill to calm him down and Lively prompted Austen Smith to fly out to end the threat.

Three Stars
First Star: UCF LF Chris Taladay - 3-for-5, 5 RBI, 2 HR, 2B, 2 R
Second Star: UCF SS Darnell Sweeney - 4-for-5, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R
Third Star: UCF SP Ben Lively - WP, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 K

By Brian Ormiston

Box Score in PDF Format

Mobile, Ala. (UCFAthletics.com) - A total of 12 of UCF's 18 hits went for extra-bases and freshman Ben Lively won his first-career start in the Knights' 12-4 victory against No. 29 Alabama in the final day of the 26th-annual South Alabama Classic in Mobile Sunday. By going 2-1 in the tournament, UCF pushed its record to 6-1 on the year.

"The goal when you play every weekend is to at least win two of three. And for our guys to bounce back (after Saturday) and play as well as we did today says a lot about the competitiveness in our ball club," said head coach Terry Rooney. "I think the tone of the game was set by Ben Lively. In his first collegiate start he did a tremendous job against an SEC team. He obviously has an extremely bright future here and I'm really proud of the way he competed against them today."

Lively completed his outing with two strikeouts in 5.0 innings, giving up three hits, four walks and no earned runs to grab the victory.

"I found out I was starting this morning before breakfast," said Lively, a native of Gulf Breeze, Fla. "Coach gave me a couple calls but I missed them because I was in the shower, but when I got out I was really pumped up. Once I saw Alabama on our schedule at the beginning of the year I wanted it."

UCF has now won four-straight against Alabama (4-3) dating back to 2001, and moved to 6-4 all-time against the Crimson Tide.

A little upset that his 26-game hitting streak came to a close Saturday, Beau Taylor took it out on Alabama pitching Sunday, going 2-for-4 with four RBI, a double and a home run. Chris Taladay, meanwhile, tied a South Alabama Classic record by hitting two long balls against the Tide, marking his first multi home run game of his career. Taladay finished 3-for-5 with five RBI and three extra-base hits.

And Darnell Sweeney demonstrated to a NCAA-regional caliber field that he ranks as one of the top shortstops in the nation. Against the Tide, the sophomore shortstop was 4-for-5 with three doubles, two RBI and two runs. For the weekend, Sweeney was 8-for-12 with four doubles, three RBI, three runs, a stolen base, three walks, no strikeouts and did not commit an error in the field.

Joining the hit parade was Travis Shreve and D.J. Hicks who each capped off the day with three hits apiece.

"It was a really good weekend," said Sweeney. "I was just keeping everything simple, stayed relaxed and played my game. And I love having a guy like Shreve (at second base). He keeps the energy up and talks about nonsense half of the time. But it helps you stay in the game."

The contest got off to a promising start as Shreve doubled off Tucker Hawley in the top of the first. Although the righty got the first out, Sweeney doubled on a two-strike pitch and Taylor followed with a two-bagger of his own to stretch it to 2-0.

In the bottom half, Lively also found himself into a jam after Taylor Dugas reached second on a single and an error. The led to an unearned run as it was just the third error by the UCF defense this year.

After a scoreless second, Sweeney stepped into the box in the third with Ronnie Richardson on first and one out and promptly went the opposite way to left for his second double of the game. With two in scoring position, Taylor crushed a deep drive to center where Dugas made a great play at the wall for the out. Richardson easily scored from third and Sweeney used his speed to come all the way around from second on the two-run sacrifice fly.

Alabama looked to respond in the home half, earning two walks out off Lively to set up Austen Smith with two outs. Lively fell behind 2-0, threw a fastball on the outside corner for strike one before inducing Smith to send a fly ball to right for the final out.

Searching for more runs at the plate, Hicks got the fourth underway with UCF's fifth double, and Ryan Breen fouled off several pitches before drawing a walk. While Alabama's bullpen got busy, Taladay was busy sending a RBI double to the gap in right-center. Right-hander Jay Shaw was brought in and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Luciano as the UCF advantage rose to 6-1. One inning later, Taylor crushed his solo homer to right to make it a six-run game.

Giving up only one hit through four innings, Lively surrendered two singles in the fifth to put runners at the corners with one out, and escaped thanks to a pair of fly balls.

Still holding a 7-1 advantage, reliever Brennan Dobbins issued two free passes and a single to start the seventh. Rooney ventured out of the dugout for a conference on the hill, and immediately Dobbins went to 1-2 on Jeremiah Tullidge, who then hit into a 6-4-3 double play as a run scored. But the righty could not get the third out without permitting another run to score and the game reached the eighth with UCF ahead, 7-3.

And while the Crimson Tide's two seventh-inning runs could have put a stop to the Knights' momentum, Taladay had the answer in the eighth. After Breen kicked off the inning by beating out an infield single, Taladay lined a 2-1 offering from Brett Whitaker that hit the top of the wall and had so much velocity that it easily skipped over for a two-run homer. Solidifying the victory, Richardson singled, stole second and easily touched home with two outs on a double over the head of Dugas in center.

With the lead bumped up to 10-3, UCF allowed a solo home run in the eighth and Alabama had two runners in scoring position only to witness Joe Rogers toe the rubber and force Dugas to fly out to center. With the win already in hand, Taladay demolished a two-strike, two-run homer to right in the ninth, allowing the Knights to be able to enjoy the long bus ride home.

UCF now returns to Orlando for a 13-game homestand beginning Wednesday against Maine at 4 p.m. Patrons who already have a ticket to the baseball game can show that ticket to the UCF Arena box office and save $2 off each ticket purchased for the men's basketball game. And all patrons who show their SMU men's basketball ticket at the baseball stadium can purchase an adult ticket for $4 to watch the baseball team take on Maine, a savings of $4 off the single-game ticket price.

Game Notes
UCF - 6-1 Overall
No. 29 Alabama - 4-3 Overall
-Derek Luciano, Ronnie Richardson and D.J. Hicks each extended their hitting streaks to six games.
-Darnell Sweeney's three doubles were one shy of tying the UCF record of four set by three different players.
-The defense turned three double plays vs. Alabama.
-Sunday was UCF's first win over a ranked non-conference opponent since last year at Miami.
-A total of six different players posted at least one double.
-UCF left only six runners on base.