UCF Loses Rubber Match at East Carolina


April 17, 2011

Final Stats

UCF vs. East Carolina
April 17, 2011
From Greenville, N.C.
Team R H E
UCF 3 9 2
ECU 5 11 1

WP: Brandt (5-0), 8.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
LP: Cicio (1-2), 2.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
SV: Simmons (5), 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

Game-Changing Moment
With the score knotted at 2-2, D.J. Hicks doubled and Jonathan Griffin walked to get the third inning going. But ECU starter Kevin Brandt retired the next three Knights to escape, setting up a three-run inning by the Pirates in the bottom half.

Three Stars
First: ECU DH Chase McDonald, 4-for-4
Second: ECU SP Kevin Brandt, WP, 8.0 IP, 3 R
Third: UCF RP Danny Winkler, 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 6 K

By Brian Ormiston

Box Score in PDF Format

GREENVILLE, N.C. (UCFAthletics.com) - East Carolina plated three runs in the third inning to break a 2-2 tie and never looked back to defeat UCF 5-3 Sunday in Greenville, N.C. The Knights dropped the series, 2-1, to the Pirates (24-12, 6-6) to cause their record to move to 22-14 on the year and 4-8 in Conference USA.

Danny Winkler came out of the bullpen to try and keep the Knights in the game after they fell behind 5-2 in that third inning. The junior righty proceeded to dominate East Carolina, tossing 5.0 shutout innings, striking out six, but the early runs were all the Pirates needed.

Among UCF's nine hits, Darnell Sweeney finished 3-for-4 with a RBI and two runs and D.J. Hicks amassed three hits as well.

Facing lefty Kevin Brandt who entered with a 1.02 ERA in 44.0 innings, UCF struck immediately by taking advantage of a leadoff walk to Sweeney. With one out, Hicks singled to left-center and Jonathan Griffin brought around Sweeney with a base hit to right-center. The damage to Brandt could have been worse only the ECU junior left runners at first and third with one down.

After not being able to add more in the top of the first, the Knights allowed the Pirates to threaten right away as well. Making 13-straight relief appearances to open 2011, senior southpaw Nick Cicio made his first start of the year and permitted the first two hitters to reach. Following a strikeout, Cicio loaded them up with a free pass to set up John Wooten who grounded into a RBI fielder's choice to draw even at 1-1.

When UCF strode to the plate for the second, it once again put a runner at third with one down and could not capitalize when Travis Shreve was thrown out at home on a one-out groundball from Beau Taylor. However with two away, Taylor took second on a wild pitch and Sweeney brought him around with a single to right.

And the 2-1 lead was quickly erased. A pair of singles and a walk filled the bags to open the bottom of the second, and the Pirates went on to score on a bloop single by Jack Reinheimer. Now tied up again at 2-2, Cicio got out of it by making Cory Thompson ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

The Knights' bats kept at it in the third with a leadoff double out of Hicks and four-pitch walk to Griffin. This time Brandt ensured the game would remain tied when Erik Hempe popped up a bunt, Derek Luciano popped up on the infield and Ryan Breen flew out to right.

Scoring opportunities continued in the home half of the third, where a walk, an error and a bunt single yet again loaded the bases with no outs, and the home team then took charge of the game by scoring three runs.

Brandt settled down after that, retiring 10-straight Knights at one point. And he was cruising along with nobody aboard and two outs in the seventh before UCF finally got on the board again. Sparked by a single from Sweeney, Ronnie Richardson was plunked and Hicks ripped out his third base hit of the day to permit Sweeney to touch home, making it 5-3.

Only that would be the last of the runs for the Black and Gold as East Carolina held on for the two-run victory.

Now halfway through the C-USA schedule, UCF returns home for a pair of midweek games as it hosts Florida Atlantic Tuesday and No. 4 Florida Wednesday. Both games start at 6:30 p.m. and for ticket information, call (407) 823-1000. The Knights' next league series will be on the road next weekend when they travel to face Memphis April 22-24.

Game Notes
UCF - 22-14 Overall, 4-8 C-USA
East Carolina - 24-12 Overall, 6-6 C-USA
-Dating back to last year, Nick Cicio made 14-consecutive relief appearances before Sunday's start. His last start on the hill was against East Carolina May 16, 2010, where he pitched 7.0 innings of one-run ball for a 4-3 win in Orlando.
-UCF had won two-straight C-USA road series before suffering two losses at East Carolina this weekend.
-ECU outhit UCF, 11-9, and all 11 of the Pirates' hits were singles.