There may not have been anything overly impressive about the manner in which UCF blew out Manhattan on Friday night, but the victory carried a lot of meaning. With their 13-3 victory, the Knights reached 1,500 wins in program history.
“That’s good for the program. It says a lot more about the alums and the teams before us,” Knights coach Greg Lovelady said. “It was just good to get the win.”
UCF (5-0, 0-0 AAC) fell behind 2-0 early as Manhattan (0-1, 0-0 MAAC) picked up runs in the second and third innings. After struggling offensively through two innings, the Knights eventually took advantage of the lack of command from the Jaspers’ pitching staff. UCF got on the board in the third inning, scoring four runs on just two hits. The three walks and two hit-by-pitches were key in pushing four runs across, but that was only the beginning. Manhattan pitchers went on to walk seven batters and hit nine. The nine hit-by-pitches are a new program record for UCF.
“We were just patient,” redshirt sophomore Kyle Marsh said. “We wanted to have a good approach.”
Marsh finished the night with two hits, including an RBI double in the team’s six-run sixth inning. Seniors Kam Gellinger and Logan Heiser each had two hits to add to the Knights’ offensive outburst.
The 13 runs proved to be plenty of support for senior Robby Howell, who got the start on the mound for UCF. The right-hander earned his second victory of the season, giving up three runs (two earned) on nine hits and no walks in 6 1/3 innings pitched. He finished the night with six strikeouts. A couple of long innings for the offense had Howell on the bench for long periods of time, but he remained dialed in.
“After long innings, my mentality is just to go out there and try to go three up, three down as quick as I can to get our guys back in to hit,” Howell said. “[It’s been] a good little stretch of games for us here.”
Senior Trent Thompson came on in relief with one out in the seventh inning. He retired all five batters he faced before junior Andrew Rohloff finished off Manhattan in the ninth.
Despite the 10-run win, the Knights had their share of negatives. They left 10 runners on base and made two errors on the night.
“I wasn’t pleased exactly with how we played today,” Lovelady said. “I thought it was a little sloppy. We’ve got to come out and play better tomorrow.”
The Knights host the Jaspers in game two of the three-game series on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Senior Juan Pimentel will start on the mound for UCF.
Bailey Adams is a contributor for the Central Florida Focus. You can follow him on Twitter at @BaileyJAdams22 and email the sports team at EvanA@centralfloridafocus.com.