Seven-Run Seventh Propels UCF to a Wild Win at No. 6 Florida State


May 7, 2011

Final Stats

UCF vs. Florida State
May 7, 2011
From Tallahassee, Fla.
Team R H E
UCF 14 11 0
FSU 10 15 4

WP: Rogers (3-2), 3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
LP: Busch (4-2), 1.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
SV: None

Game-Changing Moment
After UCF broke a 6-6 tie with three runs in the seventh, Jonathan Griffin stepped in the box with two down and the bases juiced in the inning and destroyed the first pitch he saw for a grand slam to left. That made it 13-6 and proved to be a huge swing as FSU answered with four in the bottom half, but that was as close as it would get.

Three Stars
First: UCF CF Ronnie Richardson, 3-for-4, 2B, SB, RBI, 3 R, 2 BB
Second: UCF 1B Jonathan Griffin, Grand slam in the 7th
Third: FSU CF Mike McGee, 3-for-6, Grand slam

By Brian Ormiston

Box Score in PDF Format

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Senior Jonathan Griffin's mammoth grand slam capped off a seven-run seventh in UCF's wild 14-10 victory at No. 6 Florida State (35-12) Saturday. It was the Knights' (29-18) third victory against a top-10 team this season (defeated top-five Florida twice), and they now have seven victories over ranked opponents on the year, which are the most since the 2004 roster also produced seven wins.

"I was just focused on seeing the ball well and I wasn't trying to do too much," described Griffin of his first-career grand slam in two seasons as a Knight. "I wanted to take a nice, smooth swing and I put a good piece of the barrel on it."

Even though this weekend marks the first regular-season meeting since 1993 between UCF and FSU, this year is the first time since 1987 that the Knights defeated Florida State and Florida in the same season.

"Tonight was a great college baseball game between two great teams," said head coach Terry Rooney. "In the end we got a couple bigger hits. I'm pleased that we evened the series and we'll try and get the win tomorrow."

UCF trailed 4-2 after four innings and the game reached the seventh tied at 6-6. And a simple leadoff walk to Derek Luciano gave way to the big frame, where Griffin's 13th home run of the year also was his 26th-career blast, moving him into a tie for eighth with Dee Brown on the Knights' all-time home run chart.

Earlier in the game, D.J. Hicks matched Griffin for the team lead in taters with a two-run blast in the third, which was his 12th of 2011. It also was Hicks' 20th homer in just two full seasons as a Knight (the redshirt sophomore played in just six games last year).

Just as impressive with the aluminum, Ronnie Richardson reached base in his first five plate appearances and finished the evening 3-for-4 with three runs, a double, two walks and a stolen base.

UCF was poised to take the lead right away off 6-foot-8 righty Hunter Scantling when it had runners at the corners with one out in the first, yet it failed to produce a run. Unable to capture the early momentum, the Knights watched as FSU lit up the scoreboard in the home half of the first on a leadoff homer by Devon Travis against senior Chase Bradford, who was making his first-career weekend start in a Black and Gold uniform. The right-hander, though, stranded a pair of runners with no outs to keep it at 1-0.

Bradford discovered some trouble again in the second by issuing a walk and hitting a batter. With two down, Sherman Johnson connected for a groundball RBI single and the FSU lead doubled to 2-0.

The third inning appeared as though it would go by quickly as the first two Knights were retired, only Scantling walked Richardson to keep the inning alive. And when Hicks fell behind 0-2, he worked it even at 2-2 before unloading on a two-run blast over the high fence in right-center.

That 2-2 tie would be broken in the fourth, and it all started on an infield single from Taiwan Easterling that Bradford could not handle on the mound. Eventually the Seminoles placed runners at first and third with one down and proceeded to plate two runs.

Now trailing 4-2 in the fifth, a leadoff walk to Richardson paid off in a big way for the Knights, however they also were a little lucky as the Seminoles botched two potential double plays in the inning.

A throwing error by Johnson at third gave UCF two runners with one away in the frame, and in came Brian Busch from the pen. FSU got excited when Luciano grounded the first pitch back to the mound, yet the southpaw's throw to second went into right-center to permit Richardson to scamper home. Two pitches later, Erik Hempe drove a two-run double to the left-center gap to hand UCF its first lead. To close out the scoring, Ryan Breen came through with an infield single and Travis Shreve laid down a perfect delayed squeeze down the first-base line.

The four-run frame made it 6-4 Knights, only that changed in FSU's next trip to the dish as Easterling's two-out RBI single off Nick Cicio made it 6-5. And it became a brand new ballgame in the sixth when a one-out walk by Cicio led to a two-out RBI single by Rafael Lopez vs. reliever Joe Rogers.

Knotted up at six apiece, UCF was tired of letting Florida State hang around in the seventh, and it started up with a four-pitch walk to Luciano and a Hempe single to left. Busch then went to 2-0 on Breen before Scott Sitz took over and allowed a chopper to the mound, moving both runners into scoring position with one out. Breen's ability to advance the runners worked when Sitz threw one to the backstop, bringing in Luciano. Now with Hempe at third, Shreve went to 0-2 until sending a 3-2 offering with the infield in up the middle.

Although it claimed the 8-6 advantage in the seventh, UCF had a little more left in the stanza. Just a little.

Thanks to a two-strike single off the bat of Beau Taylor, the inning kept going, and with two away Richardson's legs helped him beat out an infield single which drove in Shreve from third. The bases then filled up with Knights on a free pass to Hicks, and immediately after a FSU mound meeting, Griffin teed off on Sitz' first pitch, sending a no-doubter deep down the left-field line to clear the bags.

A seven-run inning late in a game usually takes the wind out of the sails of the opponent. That was not the case for the Seminoles, as Mike McGee also launched a two-out, no-doubt grand slam to right in the bottom of the seventh.

UCF's 13-6 lead all of a sudden was cut to 13-10, however FSU gave the Knights a run in the eighth when second baseman Devon Travis booted a two-out grounder, plating Breen from second who reached on a one-out walk.

After FSU scored at least once from innings three to seven, Rogers used a pair of defensive plays by right fielder Hempe and first baseman Griffin along with a punch out to preserve the 14-10 cushion in the eighth, and retired the first two Seminoles in the ninth. Things did get interesting when Florida State notched a single and a walk, yet McGee could not extend the game further, flying out to deep right-center for the third and final out.

UCF's series with the Seminoles wraps up with the rubber match Sunday at 1 p.m.

Game Notes
UCF - 29-18 Overall
No. 6 Florida State - 35-12 Overall
-The 14 runs were the most given up by FSU in a regular-season non-conference game since it lost a 16-7 affair vs. Florida April 3, 2007. It also was the most runs scored by the Knights in 25 total games vs. the Seminoles.
-The Knights improved to 5-1 this year when the game was on television (Sun Sports Saturday).
-Eight of D.J. Hicks' 12 home runs this year have occurred when there have been two strikes in the count.
-Jonathan Griffin's grand slam was UCF's third of the year (Beau Taylor and D.J. Hicks also have slams).
-UCF's record is now 7-6 this season against ranked teams.
-The announced crowd was 5,389, FSU's fifth-largest of the season, and the most fans to see a UCF game since over 9,000 came out to see all three-games of the LSU series in Baton Rouge in 2009.
-Game time was 3:48, which was the longest game of the year for the Knights.
-UCF's 2-6 hitters all scored at least two runs.
-Joe Rogers got the win by working the final 3.2 innings to move his record to 3-2.