ORLANDO, Fla. – UCF Baseball (32-22, 14-9) clinched no lower than a three seed in the American Athletic Conference Championship, splitting the double header with Cincinnati (22-29, 11-12) on Thursday.
UCF opened the scoring in the bottom of the first in game one, as Tom Josten singled up the middle to score Noah Orlando from second. Andrew Sundean grounded out to second base to score Gephry Pena, before Ben McCabe capped off the first inning with a three-run home run of his own to give the Knights a 5-0 lead.
In the second, Gephry Pena doubled to left center field and advanced to third on the throw to score Trent Taylor from first and extend the lead to 6-0. Cincinnati responded in the top of the third, hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs off Ben Vespi. The Bearcats cut the UCF lead to 6-4 in the top of the fourth, before UCF scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Alex Freeland made his return to the lineup, missing nearly a month due to injury, doubling down the line in right to score Trent Taylor and Noah Orlando. Ben McCabe lifted a sacrifice fly center field to score Josten from third, before Michael Brooks tripled to right center field to score Lex Boedicker and Freeland. Cole Russo put the icing on the cake, doubling to right field to score Brooks and give the Knights a 12-4 lead.
Cincinnati continued to chip away, using the long ball to cut the lead to 12-7 in the eighth. The Knights answered in the bottom half, with home runs from Michael Brooks and Riley Wash, extending the lead to 15-7. The Bearcats added another three-run home run in the ninth to make the score 15-10, before UCF took game one.
In game two, Cincinnati scored six runs in the top of the fourth to open the scoring. In the fifth, UCF responded with two runs of their own, highlighted by McCabe's second home run of the day. Cincinnati continued to throw runs on the board, scoring two in the sixth and eighth to push the lead to 10-5. The Bearcats would add five more in the top of the ninth to take game two 15-5 and split the doubleheader.
UCF and Cincinnati will conclude the three-game set tomorrow afternoon at John Euliano Park. First pitch is scheduled for noon.
SCORING MOMENTS – GAME 1
BOTTOM 1st | CIN 0 – UCF 5 | Tom Josten singled up the middle to score Noah Orlando from second. Andrew Sundean grounds out to second base to score Gephry Pena from third. Ben McCabe hits a three-run home run to left field.
BOTTOM 2nd | CIN 0 – UCF 6 | Gephry Pena doubles to left center and advances to third on the throw to score Trent Taylor from first.
TOP 3rd | CIN 3 – UCF 6 | Cincinnati hits back-to-back-to-back home runs to cut the lead in half.
TOP 4th | CIN 4 – UCF 6 | Bearcats score another run in the fourth on a wild pitch.
BOTTOM 6th | CIN 4 – UCF 12 | Alex Freeland doubled down the line in right to score Taylor and Noah Orlando. Ben McCabe flied out to left field to score Josten from third. Michael Brooks triples to right center to score Lex Boedicker and Freeland. Cole Russo doubled to right field to score Brooks.
TOP 8th | CIN 7 – UCF 12 | Bearcats hit a three-run home run to cut into the lead.
BOTTOM 8th | CIN 7 – UCF 15 | Michael Brooks hits a solo home run to left field. Riley Wash singles up the middle to score Taylor and Pablo Ruiz.
TOP 9th | CIN 10 – UCF 15 | Cincinnati hits a three-run home run.
SCORING MOMENTS – GAME 2
TOP 4th | CIN 6 – UCF 0 | Cincinnati scores six in the top of the fourth.
BOTTOM 5th | CIN 6 – UCF 2 | Tom Josten flies out to center field to score Gephry Pena from third. Ben McCabe hits a solo home run to right center field.
TOP 6th | CIN 8 – UCF 2 | Bearcats add a pair in the sixth.
BOTTOM 6th | CIN 8 – UCF 4 | Riley Wash hits a two-run home run to left field.
TOP 8th | CIN 10 – UCF 4 | Bearcats score a pair in the eighth.
BOTTOM 8th | CIN 10 – UCF 5 | Pablo Ruiz hits a solo home run to left field.
TOP 9th | CIN 15 – UCF 5 | Cincinnati scores five more in the top of the ninth.
- UCF pitchers struck out 13 Cincinnati batters in game one.
- Alex Freeland made his return to the lineup in game one, pinch hitting for an RBI double down the line in right.
- UCF clinches no lower than a three seed after defeating Cincinnati in the opener of the doubleheader.
- With a win tomorrow, UCF can clinch the No. 2 seed in the AAC Championship, after ECU defeated Houston tonight.
- Four different UCF players recorded a home run on Saturday, with Ben McCabe hitting two. McCabe has hit half of his home runs (5) in the month of May.
- UCF pitching struck out Cincinnati a combined 25 times during the doubleheader.
- Riley Wash hit his first home run of the season and as a Knight in the bottom of the sixth.
UCF and Cincinnati will conclude the three-game set on Friday from John Euliano Park. First pitch is scheduled for noon.