Baseball Victorious in War On I-4 Road Series Opener

TAMPA, Fla. – The UCF baseball pitching staff struck out seven of the last nine batters in the game, as the Knights opened their road series against rival South Florida with a 6-4 win Friday night at USF Baseball Stadium.

After grabbing a 6-4 lead following six innings, UCF (22-16, 4-6 AAC) pitchers Najer Victor and Kyle Kramer did not allow a USF (16-23, 5-5 AAC) baserunner in the final three innings. Victor was phenomenal in relief of starter Ruddy Gomez, striking out the side in both innings he pitched. A leadoff called strike led off the seventh inning and five consecutive swinging strikeouts tied his single-game high for the season.

Gomez threw six strong innings for the Knights to earn his sixth win of the season. He struck out four and did not issue a free pass.

Kramer shut down the Bulls in the ninth inning. Facing three batters and notching two strikeouts, Kramer earned his 14th career save and moved into sixth place all-time in career saves in UCF history.

UCF's offense was powered by Andrew Sundean's 3-4 performance with three RBI and a home run, and Nick Romano's 2-3 day with an RBI and a run. John Rhys Plumlee scored three of the Knights' six runs.

The Knights wasted no time getting on base, after a first-pitch strike, Plumlee drew a leadoff walk on four consecutive pitches out of the strike zone. Ben McCabe put down a sacrifice bunt to move Plumlee into scoring position and Sundean capitalized, ripping a single to right field to plate Plumlee for the first run of the contest.

Plumlee was hit by the first pitch of the third inning, stole second base andadvanced to third on an error. Sundean dropped an 0-1 pitch into shallow center field for his second RBI single of the day to take the team lead in RBI and tie his career single-season high with his 33rd RBI.

South Florida answered in the bottom of the third with a three-run home run from freshman infielder Eric Snow.

Romano answered with a home run of his own to begin the fourth inning. The Knights loaded the bases as Plumlee took first base on a fielder's choice, and McCabe and Sundean were hit by back-to-back pitches. UCF capitalized on a wild pitch, as Plumlee raced home from third base to score his third run of the contest. Cole Russo loaded the bases once again, drawing a two-out, full-count walk. Andrew Brait was the third Knight of the inning to get hit by a pitch, this time scoring McCabe to bring the score to 5-3.
Sundean lined his ninth home run of the season over the left field wall for his 34th RBI, setting his career single-season record in just 38 games.

The Bulls once again cut into the Knights' lead with a home run, scoring the final run of the contest in the bottom of the sixth inning.

UCF evened the season series against South Florida at two games apiece, as the Bulls won two of the three games in Orlando to take the series.

The Knights and Bulls have two more matchups set to take place on Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at the USF Baseball Stadium.