Pitcher's Duel Evolves into a 16-5 UCF Victory


June 4, 2011

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UCF vs. Bethune-Cookman
June 4, 2011
From Tallahassee, Fla.
Team R H E
UCF 16 20 2
B-CU 5 5 3

WP: Cicio (4-2), 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
LP: Anselmo (3-5), 0.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
SV: None

Game-Changing Moment
After B-CU scored four unearned runs to take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth, UCF did not let that affect its mindset. The Knights loaded the bases with no outs on three-straight two-strike singles in the seventh, and promptly scored five runs on the next three pitches as D.J. Hicks, Jonathan Griffin and Derek Luciano all drove in runs. That was the start of an eight-run inning for the Black and Gold.

Three Stars
First: UCF 1B Jonathan Griffin, 4-for-5, 5 RBI, 3 R, 2 2B, HR
Second: UCF DH D.J. Hicks, 4-for-5, 2 RBI, 3 R
Third: UCF SP Danny Winkler, 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K

By Brian Ormiston

Box Score in PDF Format

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - In a span of three-consecutive pitches in the seventh inning, No. 2 UCF scored five runs and eventually plated 13 runs in the final three innings to defeat No. 4 Bethune-Cookman, 16-5, in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional Saturday. It was the most runs scored in a game by the Knights (39-22) in their NCAA Tournament history.

UCF advances to Sunday's noon game and will await the loser of Saturday night's contest between No. 1 Florida State and No. 3 Alabama. If the Knights rumble with FSU, the game will air on Sun Sports.

"I'm very proud of the effort of our guys," said head coach Terry Rooney. "We faced an outstanding Bethune-Cookman club, a team that we played (twice) during the year and their starting pitcher did a tremendous job. But our guys continued to battle throughout the day. I thought Danny Winkler pitched fantastic. He was incredible."

A day after combining to go 1-for-15 vs. Alabama, Beau Taylor, D.J. Hicks, Jonathan Griffin and Derek Luciano all tore apart Wildcat (36-25) pitching. The quartet went 13-for-21 with 11 RBI, 11 runs and five extra-base hits. Hicks and Griffin each collected four hits, with Griffin driving in five to tie a UCF record for most RBI in a NCAA Tournament game.

Griffin crushed his 19th home run of the season as well, putting him in sole possession of second on the UCF single-season chart. He trails only Chris Duffy, who belted 21 four-baggers last year. The senior also has 32-career homers in just two seasons as a Knight to place him in a tie for sixth in UCF history.

Winkler was on his way to possibly his best outing of the season, pitching 5.2 shutout innings with just two hits against and six strikeouts. Yet two errors on a single play with nobody on base and two outs in the sixth inning led to four unearned runs to help the Wildcats eliminate a 3-0 deficit, and Winkler's day was over.

"I just stuck to my game plan like I've been doing the last couple of weeks," said Winkler. "I was getting ahead early, but I wasn't happy with (my slider). So I was trying to command my fastball. And with their starter going like he was, that kept me in it so I kept pounding the zone."

The Wildcats decided to start righty Rayan Gonzalez on the mound vs. the Knights. And the junior surrendered three-straight one-out singles in the top of the first to Taylor, Hicks and Griffin with Griffin driving in Taylor on a chopper over the head of third baseman Emmanuel Castro.

Given an early 1-0 lead, Winkler proceeded to limit Bethune-Cookman to just one hit in the first three innings, striking out five. That was highlighted by the right-hander sitting down the side on strikes in the third. Winkler then stranded a pair of runners with one out in the fourth.

UCF was unable to build its advantage on the scoreboard due to Gonzalez mowing down the Knights. They did have a two-out opportunity after Darnell Sweeney singled to center and Ronnie Richardson drew a walk, however the B-CU right-hander picked up his eighth strikeout of the game to return to the dugout.

Although Gonzalez motored through to get to the sixth inning, his pitch count was well into triple figures after UCF finally got the big hit it had been searching for all day long. As Griffin stood in the on-deck circle, he witnessed Hicks drive a 3-2 pitch into right for a leadoff single. The first baseman strode to the plate and quickly fell behind 0-2. And for some reason he did not like his mugshot on the left-field scoreboard, so he attempted to alter it by demolishing a 1-2 offering that came within a few feet of his face for a two-run homer.

Now jogging out to the hill with a 3-0 lead in the sixth, Winkler, who had thrown just 61 pitches, continued to cruise, getting the first two outs and inducing Peter O'Brien to send a lazy fly ball to left-center. That was when the state of the game changed, as there was miscommunication in the UCF outfield. Two errors on the play led to a hit by pitch and two walks to bring in the Wildcats' first run.

Winkler tried to get that crucial third out, but Brashad Johnson delivered a two-run, two-out, two-strike single into left to tie it up at 3-3. Nick Cicio entered earlier than expected from the pen, and DJ Leonard sent his second pitch to left for a RBI single.

All of a sudden down 4-3, the UCF bats were not concerned by their newly-found one-run hole. A pair of two-strike singles by Sweeney and Richardson greeted reliever Chris Anselmo in the seventh, and although Taylor failed to get a sac bunt down, he ripped a 1-2 pitch off the high fence in right for a long single to load the bases.

Similar to Bethune-Cookman taking advantage of its scoring chance in the previous inning, the Knights were not going to let this one slip away either.

Freshman Bryan Rivera was called in from the B-CU bullpen and the southpaw threw only three pitches in his appearances. All of them resulted in RBI hits, as Hicks punched a single between first and second, Griffin dropped a two-run double into left and Luciano lined a two-run single up the middle. That was it for Rivera, who gave way to Gabriel Hernandez, and the Knights tacked on three more runs highlighted by RBI from Travis Shreve and Sweeney.

With the eight-run inning complete, UCF added a four more in the eighth to stretch the lead to 15-5. Kick-started by a double out of Taylor, Hicks drove in the catcher on a single, Griffin walked on five pitches and Luciano socked a two-run double into the right-field corner. And with the sun beating down onto Dick Howser Stadium, lightning was detected which delayed play for 3:20. When play ultimately resumed, Luciano eventually scored UCF's 15th run on a wild pitch. To close out the offense, Kevin Vasquez drew a RBI walk with two outs in the ninth, and Bryan Brown tossed the final 2.0 innings to send UCF back to the hotel in a jolly mood.

Game Notes
No. 2 UCF - 39-22 Overall
No. 4 Bethune-Cookman - 36-25 Overall
-The game featured a 3:20 weather delay with no outs in the top of the eighth inning.
-Saturday marked the 83rd meeting between UCF and Bethune-Cookman, but the first in the NCAA Tournament.
-It was UCF's first NCAA Tournament victory since defeating Florida State, 7-5, June 6, 2004.
-Jonathan Griffin moved into a tie for seventh in the NCAA this year with his 19th homer.
-When Ryan Breen walked to start the fifth, UCF ended a span of 17-straight innings where it did not put the leadoff man aboard (streak started May 27 vs. Rice).
-UCF had not committed more than one error in a game since two miscues vs. Houston May 1 (a span of 16 games). But the Knights had two errors Saturday.
-The Knights moved their NCAA record to 14-19 and have won at least one game in nine of their 10 overall appearances in the NCAA D-I Regionals.
-The eight-run seventh inning was the biggest inning in an NCAA Tournament game in school history. It also matched an overall postseason record as UCF scored eight runs in an Atlantic Sun Tournament game vs. Centenary in 1996.
-UCF set a school record for most runs in an NCAA Tournament contest, and tied the school mark with 20 hits (also had 20 vs. Princeton May 25, 2001). The Knights posted at least 20 hits in a game for the second time this year (20 at UAB May 15).
-Jonathan Griffin tied a school record for RBI in an NCAA Tournament game with five.