ECU drops second straight to UCF
ORLANDO, Fla. — Alex Friedrich posted a team-best four hits and was one of three players to belt home runs as No. 19 UCF (19-5, 2-0) claimed the opening weekend series from No. 25 East Carolina (15-7, 0-2) Saturday afternoon at Jay Bergman Field, 10-6.
Trailing 6-5 going to the bottom of the fifth, Friedrich and Ryan Breen each belted solo home runs putting UCF up 7-6, a lead they would not relinquish. The Knights would tack on an additional run in the seventh and a pair in the eighth for a 10-6 victory.
For the second-straight day, the Pirates got on the board early scoring four runs in the second for a 4-0 lead. John Wooten started the frame with an infield single to short deep in the hole, which extended his current hit streak to nine games. Drew Reynolds followed with an RBI double down the right field line and Zach Wright singled to right putting runners on the corners for Ben Fultz, who pushed across Reynolds on a sac fly to left. Jack Reinheimer reached on an error by the third baseman Chris Taladay and Wright moved over to second base.
With two outs, Philip Clark reached on the second error of the frame, this time by the shortstop Darnell Sweeney, which scored Wright and put runners on second and third. After a wild pitch moved the runners up 90 feet, Bryan Bass loaded the bases with a walk and Corey Thompson drew the second free pass of the frame scoring Reinheimer for the final run of the inning.
UCF immediately responded with four runs in the bottom half of the second to knot the game at four. The inning was highlighted by a two-run homer from D.J. Hicks, his seventh of the season. Breen led off with a single through the right side and Travis Shreve singled to center and took second on the throw to third, putting runners on the corners. Sweeney plated the first two runs of the game for UCF with a two-RBI single through the left side clearing the bases before Hicks deposited a 1-0 offering from Tyler Joyner to deep center field.
After a 15-minute rain delay in the top of the third, the Knights took a 5-4 lead. Friedrich led-off with a bunt single and Breen doubled down the left field line scoring Friedrich, who moved over to third on a failed pick off attempt by Joyner when he threw over to first.
ECU tied the game at five in the fourth on a RBI fielder’s choice by Wooten. Clark reached on an error by Shreve, took second on Bass’ second free pass of the day and landed on third after Thompson’s single to right. Clark would cross home on Wooten’s ground ball deep at short that forced Bass out at third.
Tim Younger drove in the Pirates final run of the day, which gave ECU its second lead in the game at 6-5. With two outs, Reinheimer reached on an infield single, stole second and touched home on Younger’s base hit to left field.
Chris Matulis (3-0) picked up the win after working 4 1/3 innings of relief where he allowed two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts. Matulis entered the game in the second inning with two outs and the bases loaded and got out of the jam on a first-pith ground ball. Starter Ben Lively lasted just 1 2/3 frames surrendering four runs (two earned) on three hits. Garrett Nuss and Jimmy Reed bridged the gap to Roman Madrid, who picked up his first save of the season after tossing 1 1/3 perfect innings.
Tanner Merritt (2-2) was saddled with the loss giving up three runs (all earned) on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. Joyner had his shortest outing of the season lasting just three frames where he was touched for five runs (all earned) on nine hits. Andy Smitymyer (1.0 IP, 3H, 2 R, 1 ER, BB, K) and Dario Santangelo (0.2 IP, H, BB, K) closed out the final 1 2/3 innings for the Pirates staff.
ECU will look to avoid the series sweep when they return to the diamond Sunday afternoon. The game will be played in front of a national audience with the game being broadcasted live on 11 Fox Sports Net affiliates.