ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF baseball team stayed perfect in midweek contests on Tuesday night with an 8-2 win on the road at Jacksonville. The Knights broke a 2-2 tie with six runs over the final three innings to improve to 9-0 in midweek contests.
“It was a big road win tonight,” head coach Greg Lovelady said. “We didn’t play the best offensively to start the game. We did a great job of finishing strong. Mika came up big with his home run, and Osik put the nail in the coffin in the eighth. The bullpen did a tremendous job of shutting them down for the final 5 2/3 innings. We needed this win, and I’m proud of the guys doing what we needed to in order to get it.”
Tyler Osik hit the Knights’ first grand slam of the season in the eighth inning, while Dallas Beaver and Matthew Mika struck for three and two hits, respectively, to lead the way offensively. The bullpen tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts and four hits against.
After Jacksonville opened the scoring with an RBI single in the third, UCF punched back with a pair of runs in the fourth. Osik led things off with a walk and advanced over to third on a Mika double to left. Two batters later, Dalton Wingo sliced a two-RBI double to right center to put the Knights ahead.
The Dolphins rallied to tie the game in the bottom half of the frame with a two-out RBI single. Left fielder Chandler Robertson came up with a key defensive play to end the fourth. With a runner in scoring position, the Canadian international fielded a single to left and quickly fired it home, allowing catcher Anthony George to apply the tag easily.
Following a pair of quiet innings, UCF struck for runs in back-to-back innings. Robertson moved Ben McCabe from first to third with a two-out single through the right side. McCabe then broke for home on a wild pitch to put the Knights ahead. An inning later, Mika drove a 1-1 delivery just inside of the left field foul pole for a solo home run.
Jordan Spicer worked his way though 3 1/3 innings in his seventh start on the year. The righty totaled a pair of strikeouts with a pair of runs against. Jaylyn Whitehead was the first reliever out of the bullpen in the fourth. The lefty dealt a trio of scoreless frames with a matching three strikeouts.
Jack Sinclair took over in the seventh inning with two outs. The sophomore dealt a trio of punchouts over 1 2/3 innings of work. The righty turned an unconventional 1-6 double play on an attempted sacrifice bunt with no outs in the eighth, catching the pop-up and throwing the lead runner out at second. Zack Hunsicker closed things out in the ninth with the third 1-2-3 frame of the game.
The relievers had some extra breathing room in the last two innings, thanks to a four-spot in the top of the eighth. Following a leadoff walk by George, McCabe and Ray Alejo loaded the bases on singles with one out. Osik then lifted launched a no-doubt dinger to left center to put the game out of reach.
UCF (21-12) – 8, Jacksonville (20-13) – 2
Winning Pitcher: Jaylyn Whitehead (4-2)
Losing Pitcher: Nick Love (3-1)
Top Hitters: Tyler Osik (1-4, 4 RBI, 1 HR, 2 R), Matthew Mika (2-5, 1 RBI, 2 R), Dallas Beaver (3-5)
Top Pitchers: Jaylyn Whitehead (3.0 IP, 3 K, 3 H, 0 R), Jack Sinclair (1.2 IP, 2 K, 0 H, 0 R), Zack Hunsicker (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R)
• UCF forced the Dolphins to strand 10 runners on base.
• With one out and the bases loaded in the seventh, the Knights held the Dolphins off the board with a fielder’s choice to home and an inning-ending strikeout.
• Jacksonville stranded at least one runner in six of the nine innings.
STRONG OFFENSE LATE
• The Knights totaled two runs on three hits through the opening six innings.
• The Black and Gold tallied eight hits and six runs over the final three frames.
• The four runs in the ninth were the most by the Knights in the last inning of regulation this season.
• UCF took the season series 3-1 and now hold a 46-39 lead over the Dolphins.
• Anthony George threw out his seventh runner of the year. He’s now 7-for-10 on catching runners.
• UCF turned its 26th double play of the year and its third featuring a pitcher.
• Dalton Wingo notched his fifth multi-RBI game of 2019, tying him for fourth on the team with Matthew Mika.
• Osik’s grand slam was the Knights’ first since April 4, 2018, against Cincinnati, hit by Osik.
The Knights will continue their four-game road swing this weekend with a trip to Cincinnati.
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