ORLANDO, Fla. – UCF pitchers struck out 14 Hatters on Tuesday, matching a season high as the Knights downed Stetson 5-3 at John Euliano Park. Ruddy Gomez earned his first win as a Knight, while Ben Vespi slammed the door in the ninth to earn his second save of the season.
In the top of the first, Stetson (4-4) opened the scoring on a ground out to the shortstop. The Knights (7-1) responded in the bottom half of the frame when Ben McCabe singled to center field to score Gephry Pena. Michael Brooks added to the scoring in the first when he drew a bases-loaded walk to take the lead, 2-1.
In the second, UCF added a run to its lead, as McCabe continued to drive in runs from the top of the order. He grounded out to short to push the lead to 3-1. Stetson did not go away quietly, though, scoring in the third on a wild pitch to cut the UCF lead to one, at 3-2.
The Knights answered in the bottom half of the third when Alex Freeland hit a solo shot to right field for his second of the campaign, marking the Knights' 11th homer of the year. The Freeland home run extended the UCF lead to 4-2.
The Hatters continued to chip away at the Knights' lead, as a single to center field scored one. UCF capped off the night offensively when Trent Taylor added some an insurance run on a safety squeeze.
Gomez started the game for the Knights, earning the win in his two innings of work. UCF sent Cylis Cox, Chase Centala, William Saxton, Kyle Kramer and Ben Vespi to the bump throughout the win. Only two UCF pitchers worked two or more innings on Tuesday.
TOP 1st | STET 1 – UCF 0 | The Hatters opened the scoring in the top of the first.
BOTTOM 1st | STET 1 – UCF 2 | Ben McCabe singled to center field to score Gephry Pena. Michael Brooks walked with the bases loaded to score Nick Romano.
BOTTOM 2nd | STET 1 – UCF 3 | Ben McCabe grounded out to shortstop to score Pablo Ruiz.
TOP 3rd | STET 2 – UCF 3 | Stetson cut the UCF lead to one.
BOTTOM 3rd | STET 2 – UCF 4 | Alex Freeland homered, a solo-shot to right field.
TOP 7th | STET 3 – UCF 4 | Stetson adds a run to cut the lead back to one again.
BOTTOM 8th | STET 3 – UCF 5 | Trent Taylor bunted for a hit to score Alex Freeland.
- Alex Freeland finished the night 2-for-3 with a home run and two runs scored. The home run was the 11th for the Knights this season.
- Ben McCabe led all Knights with two RBIs, finishing 2-for-4 on the night.
- Ruddy Gomez pitched two innings and struck out three batters as he improved to 1-0 on the season.
- Ben Vespi picked up his second save of the year, working the final inning of the game.
- UCF pitching finished with 14 strikeouts on the evening, totaling 84 for the staff this season. The 14 strikeouts tied a season high for most in a game by the UCF pitchers.
UCF will host No. 2 Ole Miss at John Euliano Park this weekend. The Knights and Rebels are scheduled for a 6 p.m. first pitch on Friday.