Taylor's Grand Slam, Strong Pitching Ignite UCF to 9-2 Win


March 4, 2011

Final Stats

UCF vs. Dartmouth
March 4, 2011
From Orlando, Fla.
Team R H E
Dartmouth 2 7 1
UCF 9 17 0

WP: Winkler (2-0), 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
LP: Hunter (0-1), 5.0 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
SV: Cicio (2), 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

Game-Changing Moment
UCF entered the eighth clinging to a 3-2 lead. And when Ryan Breen doubled, Chris Taladay singled and Derek Luciano walked, the Knights took advantage. Travis Shreve and Ronnie Richardson each drove in a run to make it 5-2, and Beau Taylor sewed it up with a grand slam into the wind and over the right-field wall.

Three Stars
First Star: UCF C Beau Taylor - 3-for-4, GS, 4 RBI, R, BB
Second Star: UCF SP Danny Winkler - WP, 6.0 IP, 0 BB, 9 K
Third Star: UCF RP Nick Cicio - SV, 3.0 IP 1 H, 0 R, 2 K

Saturday Preview in PDF Format

By Brian Ormiston

Box Score in PDF Format

Orlando, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Beau Taylor launched his first-career grand slam in the eighth while pitchers Danny Winkler and Nick Cicio combined for 11 strikeouts and no walks in UCF's 9-2 victory over Dartmouth Friday. The Knights (8-1) produced 17 hits during the rainy evening in Orlando, including a 4-for-4 performance from Chris Taladay against the Big Green (0-1).

"I'm pleased with the way we ended the game. We always talk about winning the last three innings and obviously we did that," said head coach Terry Rooney, whose team has outscored opponents 34-6 from innings seven to nine this season. "We knew early on it was going to be a great game and their starting pitcher is outstanding. He had a great year for them last year and we knew we had quite a challenge ahead for us, but we hung in there."

Taylor finished 3-for-4 Friday, marking his third three-hit game of the season, and since returning to the lineup after missing the first four games, Taladay is hitting .450 (9-for-20). In all, every starter had at least one hit.

UCF held a slim 3-2 lead until it busted out for six runs in the eighth, capped off by Taylor's salami. The Knights were able to stay ahead throughout the contest thanks to Winkler and Cicio. Winkler (2-0) completed his outing by striking out nine and surrendering two runs on six hits in 6.0 innings. He reached a three-ball count against only three of 25 batters he faced.

And Cicio worked the final three innings, sitting down two on strikes, for his second save of 2011. Winkler and Cicio combined to retire 12 batters in a row until a two-out single in the ninth. All of Dartmouth's seven hits went for singles.

Playing its first game of the season, Dartmouth's hitters were late at attacking Winker's fastball early Friday. Conversely, UCF went to work in the third against the solid arm of lefty Kyle Hunter. With two down and Derek Luicano at second, Ronnie Richardson sent a grounder to third for an infield single and third baseman Jeff Keller's throw to first was wild, permitting Luciano to score. Following a steal of second by Richardson, Darnell Sweeney brought him around on a hard single to left for a 2-0 lead.

Looking for an answer, the Big Green put the leadoff man aboard in the fourth when Chris O'Dowd was plunked. Even though Winkler struck out the next two, Ennis Coble singled to left and reached second when O'Dowd beat the throw to third. As Jake Carlson dug in, Winkler tossed in a wild pitch to allow O'Dowd to touch home. Winkler then hit Carlson who stole second to get two runners in scoring position, but the right-hander forced David Turnbull to swing at a low breaking ball for strike three, keeping UCF ahead, 2-1.

Countering immediately, UCF pushed its advantage back to two runs when Jonathan Griffin led off the home half of the fourth with a double and eventually scored on a two-out, first-pitch single off the bat of Luciano. The trend continued in the next half inning, though, as the Big Green plated another two-out run in the fifth and UCF's advantage was cut to 3-2.

The Knights had chances late in the game to increase their lead even further, placing runners at the corners with two down in the sixth and getting a leadoff double from Richardson in the seventh and came up empty each time vs. the Dartmouth bullpen.

Finally in the eighth, UCF put it away. A leadoff two-bagger from Ryan Breen set the stage for a six-run inning, as the Black and Gold would load the bases with nobody out. Following RBI out of Travis Shreve and Richardson, the bases were still juiced for Taylor. Facing freshman Louis Concato, Taylor fell behind 1-2 before crushing the next pitch into the wind and over the right-field fence for his first grand slam, ultimately sealing the Knights' victory.

Originally scheduled to conclude Sunday, the threat of inclement weather has forced the three-game series to wrap up Saturday in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. Only one ticket will be required to attend the twin-bill, and Sunday's ticket will be honored Saturday.

Game Notes
Dartmouth - 0-1 Overall
UCF - 8-1 Overall
-Ronnie Richardson went 2-for-4 with a double, stolen base, RBI and run scored. The sophomore has now recorded a hit in eight-straight games.
-Derek Luciano continued to tear apart opposing pitchers, going 2-for-3 with a RBI and two runs. The third baseman leads the Knights with a .476 average.
-UCF did not commit an error in the field for the fifth time this season.
-Friday marked the first-ever meeting between UCF and Dartmouth.
-The last time a UCF player belted a grand slam was very recently, as Chris Duffy jacked one over the center-field wall in the final game of the 2010 season at Tulane. That would be Duffy's final at-bat of his career, as the homer tied him for the UCF all-time home run record.
-Freshman Ben Lively will start the first game of the doubleheader Saturday while Matt Collins will toe the rubber in game two.