Hicks' Seventh-Inning Grand Slam Topples Memphis


April 23, 2011

Final Stats

UCF vs. Memphis
April 23, 2011
From Memphis, Tenn.
Team R H E
UCF 11 16 2
Memphis 9 14 1

WP: Bradford (4-1), 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
LP: Sharp (1-3), 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
SV: Cicio (4), 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Game-Changing Moment
After erasing a six-run deficit, UCF trailed Memphis 8-7 in the top of the seventh, where Travis Shreve, Darnell Sweeney and Ronnie Richardson all singled to load the bases. D.J. Hicks then entered the box and worked the count full before crushing his second-career grand slam to right.

Three Stars
First: UCF DH D.J. Hicks, 2-for-4, 5 RBI, GS
Second: UCF RF Erik Hempe, 3-for-5, 4 RBI, 2 2B
Third: UCF Bullpen, held Memphis to just three runs in the final 8 innings

By Brian Ormiston

Box Score in PDF Format

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF trailed 6-0 after one and then 8-7 through six before redshirt sophomore D.J. Hicks destroyed a one-out, 3-2 pitch over the right-field fence in the seventh inning, giving the Knights an 11-9 victory over Memphis Saturday. It was the fourth-straight win for the Knights (26-14, 6-8 Conference USA) who will go for the sweep of the Tigers (23-17, 6-5) Sunday.

This week alone, Hicks is 8-for-18 with two homers and 12 RBI, including two hits and five RBI Saturday. His grand slam vs. the Tigers was his second of his career.

"Starting off in the first inning I kind of let the team down when the first two guys got on and I hit into a double play," said Hicks. "But (in the seventh) I came up with the bases loaded against a soft-throwing lefty so I was as close to the top of the box as I could be, and got to a full count. He left one high enough where I put a good piece of the bat on it."

It was the second time in the month of April the Knights rallied from at least a six-run deficit to win (trailed Tulane 7-0 April 10 before winning 8-7). The offensive spark in the early innings came from Erik Hempe who went 3-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI. And the top four hitters of Darnell Sweeney, Ronnie Richardson, Hicks and Jonathan Griffin combined to go 10-for-19.

Allowing UCF to claw back into it, Johnny Sedlock worked 4.2 innings with three strikeouts, Chase Bradford improved to 4-1 with an inning of relief and Nick Cicio secured his fourth save by tossing the final 3.0 innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

"Offensively we have an outstanding team and I think it shows a lot of character for us to hang in there and battle throughout the entire day," said head coach Terry Rooney. "Today is the epitome of a team effort because our hitters erased the deficit and our bullpen guys came in and did a terrific job to give us an opportunity to win late."

The Knights were poised to jump on Memphis starter Ryan Holland by placing the first two runners on in the top of the first only to watch as the lefty earned a double play and added a strikeout to escape.

With a perfect chance to seize early momentum gone, UCF freshman starting hurler Ben Lively could not duplicate that feat in the bottom half where walks and a crucial error on a possible inning-ending double play led to the Tigers jumping out to a 4-0 lead. Still in the first, Sedlock had to come out from the pen and the home team added two more runs.

Already trailing 6-0, UCF needed just three innings to even things up. The Knights got on the board with a run in the second on a Hempe double, a wild pitch and a RBI groundout from Travis Shreve. The Black and Gold threatened again in the third by loading them up with one away, and Ryan Breen cut it to 6-2 with a RBI fielder's choice. Now with two outs, Hempe delivered another two-bagger, sending a two-run double off the wall in left-center.

Although Memphis answered right away with three-straight one-out singles to make it 7-4, for the fourth-straight inning UCF got at least two runners on base in the fourth. With one down, Hicks grounded a base hit up the middle to score Beau Taylor, who led off with a bunt single. Eventually with the bases juiced and two away, Hempe torched Holland again for a two-run single through the left side and Memphis' big lead was finally gone.

All knotted up at 7-7, both teams had a runner at second in the sixth inning but it was the Tigers who capitalized with a two-out RBI base hit from T.J. Rich.

Attempting another rally, singles by Shreve and Sweeney gave way to a pitching change as Dane Sharp was replaced by Michael Wills in the seventh. Then Richardson loaded them up on a perfectly placed bunt to reach first with one out, setting up the big blow by Hicks. On a 3-2 count, the designated hitter turned on a pitch that was scorched foul, but moments later he got it between the lines, clearing the bases with a grand slam to right.

With its first lead of the afternoon at 11-8, Cicio blanked Memphis in the seventh and eighth innings until Rich started the ninth with a solo homer, and Phillip Chapman singled. Following a wild pitch, J.D. Wallace struck out yet McClain ripped a single to left to get runners at the corners. With the winning run at the dish, Cicio fanned Robby Graham on three pitches to get the second out but walked Ethan Gross on a full count. Now with the bases jammed, Cicio buckled down to induce Drew Martinez to ground out to short and Sweeney's throw beat the leadoff man by a step to preserve the win.

The series finale against the Tigers is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

Game Notes
UCF - 26-14 Overall, 6-8 C-USA
Memphis - 23-17 Overall, 6-5 C-USA
-The pitching staff carried over a streak where it did not allow a two-out hit in the previous 31 at-bats, but that ended at 0-for-35 when Memphis got a two-out single in the fifth by Adam McClain. Saturday also marked the first time it surrendered a two-out RBI since the first game of the East Carolina series last weekend (a streak that lasted five games).
-UCF had at least two baserunners with less than two outs in each of the first five innings.
-D.J. Hicks' grand slam was UCF's second of the year. Beau Taylor also had a salami vs. Dartmouth March 4.
-The Knights outhit the Tigers 16-14, marking the third game this week they posted at least 15 hits.
-Only one of the 14 hits by Memphis went for extra bases.
-UCF's last four-game winning streak was March 9-13 earlier this season.
-The Knights are now guaranteed to win the series vs. Memphis, and have won two of three C-USA road series in 2011 (also won two games at No. 23 Rice).
-UCF has held the nation's leading hitter, Chad Zurcher, to a 2-for-10 mark in the series so far.