UCF Erupts for Four in the Ninth to Topple Tulane, 8-7


April 10, 2011

Final Stats

UCF vs. Tulane
April 10, 2011
From Orlando, Fla.
Team R H E
Tulane 7 10 0
UCF 8 14 0

WP: Rogers (1-1), 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
LP: Facundus (6-2), 0.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
SV: None

Game-Changing Moment
The leadoff walks in the bottom of the ninth. Tulane reliever Alex Facundus watched as UCF took advantage of the free passes on RBI singles from Derek Luciano and Travis Shreve before D.J. Hicks crushed a walk-off two-run single off the right-field wall.

Three Stars
First: UCF DH D.J. Hicks, 2-for-5, 4 RBI, R, GW single, HR
Second: UCF 2B Travis Shreve, 3-for-4, RBI, R
Third: UCF Bullpen, 8.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K

By Brian Ormiston

Box Score in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - After falling behind 7-0, UCF scored once in the sixth and seventh innings, added two more in the eighth and capped off the thrilling comeback with four in the bottom of the ninth to defeat Tulane, 8-7, in the series finale Sunday. D.J. Hicks delivered the decisive hit with a one-out, two-run single to give the Knights (21-11, 3-6 Conference USA) the walk-off victory.

"The guys have fought hard all weekend and in this conference so many games come down to one at-bat and one swing," said head coach Terry Rooney. "So obviously to comeback and win in our last at-bat speaks volumes for the confidence of this team. Now the most important thing is to build on this momentum when we play at FAU Tuesday and at East Carolina next weekend."

Entering the ninth trailing Tulane (20-12, 3-6) by three, Ryan Breen and Beau Taylor drew walks on a combined nine pitches from Alex Facundus to get the tying run to the plate. Derek Luciano then came through with a hard groundball single to right-center to score Breen, and Travis Shreve drove a RBI single to center. One out later, Ronnie Richardson walked as well to load the bases, setting up Hicks, who smashed the game-winning single off the right-field wall.

"I was up all night thinking about what I could have done differently and I'm sure the entire team was doing the same thing," said Hicks about UCF's 6-5 loss Saturday. "And we came back early this morning and had lots of confidence in the locker room. In that last at-bat I knew if I put the ball in play somewhere good things will happen. I took a really bad swing on the first pitch but luckily he came back and put something high."

Senior first baseman Jonathan Griffin torched Tulane's pitching again by delivering his seventh homer of the year Sunday as he put one over the wall in every game against the Green Wave. After he took the team lead in dingers, Hicks also crushed his seventh home run of 2011 to move back into a tie with Griffin. Griffin finished 2-for-4 while Hicks drove in four on a pair of hits in the finale with the Green Wave.

The Black and Gold was put in position for the comeback when Danny Winkler went 4.2 innings out of the pen and surrendered just one earned run. Johnny Sedlock and Joe Rogers also shined in relief by combining to pitch the final 3.0 innings, allowing only one hit, not walking a batter and striking out one each.

Tulane struck right away in the top of the first when UCF starter Ray Hanson put the first two aboard for Jeremy Schaffer who launched a three-run homer to center. It was Schaffer's third homer in as many days vs. the Knights. Hanson would give up one more run in the inning before the Knights had to go to their pen.

Trailing 4-0, Winkler put in a solid performance on the hill but Tulane added an unearned run in the fourth when it took advantage of a passed ball. When Winkler had to leave with a leg cramp, the Green Wave scored twice in the sixth inning to push their lead to 7-0.

And that was when the comeback began.

UCF would finally score in the sixth when Darnell Sweeney hit into a double play with runners at the corners and no outs. One inning later, Griffin sent a solo shot over the palm trees in left field to make it 7-2, and Hicks then punished a two-run homer into the right-field parking lot in the eighth inning.

Thanks to the pair of taters from Griffin and Hicks and the work from the bullpen, the stage was set for that ninth inning rally.

The Knights now look ahead to a four-game road trip beginning at Florida Atlantic Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Game Notes
Tulane - 20-12 Overall, 3-6 C-USA
UCF - 21-11 Overall, 3-6 C-USA
-The last time UCF rallied from a seven-run deficit was last year against Memphis (trailed 7-0 in the fifth inning and won 11-8 April 30).
-UCF's last walk-off victory was against Jacksonville May 11, 2010, on a single from Chris Duffy.
-It was the second time this week the Knights came from behind in the ninth inning to win (trailed No. 4 Florida 3-2 Tuesday before Darnell Sweeney hit a two-run double to put the visitors ahead for good).
-Junior Beau Taylor did not start for the first time this year. Sophomore Ryan Breen took his place behind the plate. It was Breen's third start of 2011 as the catcher.
-Total attendance for the three-game series was 3,654, which marked the ninth-largest attended series in school history.
-With a home run in his third-straight game, Jonathan Griffin has now accomplished that feat twice in two seasons as a Knight.
-As a team, UCF has hit two home runs in each of the last four outings, and the Knights now have hit 26 overall in 2011.
-Travis Shreve had three more hits in the finale, and went 8-for-11 in the series with Tulane.