Offensive Eruption

CINCINNATI, Ohio (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF baseball team got off to a slow start in its series opener with Cincinnati Friday. After giving up a home run in the first inning, Knights' starter Robby Howell battled back before his offense came alive around the midway point at Marge Schott Stadium.

"He really gutted out a great performance," UCF head coach Greg Lovelady said of his ace. "He made pitches. That's what you have to do when you're a Friday night guy and you don't have your best stuff. He got some ground balls when we needed them and really settled down. I'm really proud of him."

The Black and Gold found themselves down 2-0 in the opening frame after Cincinnati belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning. UCF starter Robby Howell dug in and followed up with six scoreless innings. In the end, the senior improved to 9-0 going seven innings, allowing just four hits and 2 runs.

The Knights offense was finally sparked in the top of the sixth, when catcher Anthony George drove the first pitch he saw over the fence in left field. The Round tripper was his first the year.

"I was just looking for a pitch in a certain zone," George told Marc Daniels after the game. "I just made sure I didn't miss it."

Now with one out, a pair of walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases for left fielder Kyle Marsh. The UCF outfielder laced one to the gap in right center field for a triple, clearing the bases and putting his team up 4-2.

Two innings later, George got his team going again with a lead-off single. The Knights would tally eight runs on six hits and one error in the frame, including a triple by center fielder Luke Hamblin and an RBI double by George in his second at-bat of the inning.

In the ninth, three pinch hitters would add three more runs as UCF tallied four more in the final frame. Catcher Dallas Beaver stepped up with nobody on and one out, and blasted his first-career home run off the top of the fence in right center field.

Infielder Austin Griffin then drew a pinch-hit walk before Infielder Brooks Morgan delivered another pinch-hit homer. On a 3-1 hitters count, Morgan launched a no-doubter to left-center, his second of the year. Morgan homered last time he faced the Bearcats as well, when he delivered a walk-off winner during The American Conference Championships last season.

UCF relievers Trent Thompson and Eric Hepple threw one perfect inning each to close out the game. With the victory, the Knights have taken over first place in The American after South Florida dropped both games of a doubleheader at UConn earlier on Friday.

Game two is slated for 4 p.m. Saturday with Sunday's finale scheduled for noon. Marc Daniels will have the call all weekend on iHeartRadio and FM 96.9 The Game. Fans can also click here to follow along via live stats.

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