ORLANDO, Fla. – Gephry Pena's three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth, set the tone heading into the rain delay, as the Knights (26-17, 10-5) held on to defeat Tulane (27-17-1, 9-6) 8-6 and take the series.
William Saxton picked up the victory in relief, improving to 4-2 on the season, working four innings of no-hit baseball and striking out three to shut down the Green Wave offense in the middle innings. Chase Centala earned his second save of the season, recording the final out, after Kyle Kramer allowed two runs to score in the top of the ninth.
UCF exploded for four runs in the bottom of the third, beginning with Andrew Sundean's double down the line in left to score Gephry Pena and Noah Orlando. Tom Josten popped up to the catch who collided with the first baseman in front of the plate, advancing to second on the error allowing Sundean to score. Later in the inning, Michael Brooks singled through the left side to score Josten from third and extend the Knights lead to 4-0.
Tulane answered in the fourth, cutting the UCF lead to 4-2 with a pair of runs. The Knights continued to put the pressure on Tulane in the bottom half, as back-to-back singles by Pablo Ruiz and Ryan Taylor set up the inning for the Knights. Gephry Pena followed those two key hits with a three-run blast of his own to left field, extending the UCF lead to 7-2.
An hour and three-minute rain delay followed the Pena home run, before play resumed at around 3:50 p.m. at John Euliano Park. The Green Wave once again responded in the top of the fifth, scoring a pair to cut the UCF lead to 7-4. In the seventh Pablo Ruiz singled through the left side, scoring Trent Taylor to give the Knights an 8-4 lead and a much-needed insurance run.
In the ninth, Tulane put a runner on with one out, off closer Kyle Kramer. Kramer would allow two runs to score in the inning, before Chase Centala came on and closed the door. Brady Marget stepped to the plate as the go-ahead run but grounded out to Centala on a check swing back to the mound.
UCF moves into a tie for second place in the American with Houston, heading to UNF on Tuesday, before traveling down I4 to Tampa for the final meeting against USF this season.
BOTTOM 3rd | TUL 0 – UCF 4 | Andrew Sundean doubles down the line in left to score Gephry Pena and Noah Orlando. Tom Josten reaches on an error and advances to second, scoring Sundean. Michael Brooks singles through the left side to score Josten from second.
TOP 4th | TUL 2 – UCF 4 | Tulane cuts the lead in half in the fourth.
BOTTOM 4th | TUL 2 – UCF 7 | Gephry Pena hits a three-run home run to left field.
TOP 5th | TUL 4 – UCF 7 | The Green Wave cuts the lead to three.
BOTTOM 7th | TUL 4 – UCF 8 | Pablo Ruiz singles through the left side to score Trent Taylor from third.
TOP 9th | TUL 6 – UCF 8 | Tulane scratches across two in the ninth.
- With a home run in the fourth, Gephry Pena has now homered in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
- William Saxton improves to 4-2 on the day, working four innings of no-hit baseball.
- UCF stranded 15 Tulane baserunners this afternoon, while forcing four errors.
- Chase Centala picked up his second save of the season, recording the final out on a check swing back to the mound.
- Connor Staine worked three innings in his return to the rotation, striking out two batters and lowering his ERA to 0.86.
- Andrew Sundean drove in two RBIs on Sunday, doubling down the line in left.
UCF will hit the road to open an eight-game road stint, traveling to Jacksonville, Florida to face off against North Florida. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.