After a close loss on Saturday night, the UCF baseball team came into Sunday morning’s game determined earn a win against UConn. They started off strong, scoring four runs in the first inning alone, and the combination of UCF’s strong pitching and a consistent offensive presence kept UConn (22-16,7-5 AAC) from scoring in eight of the nine innings. The Knights won the game 8-2.
“We came out from the first pitch and we competed,” coach Greg Lovelady said. “We put up a four spot, put up some sac flies, and got the job done with the runners on third base. We stole a bunch of bases this week, and we put ourselves in scoring position and got some big hits.”
Some of the standout offensive plays include Brennan Bozeman’s three two-out hits and two two-out RBIs and Eli Putnam’s line drive hit with a backspin up the middle that went out of the park for a home run.
Freshman LHP Joseph Sheridan started on the mound for the Knights (29-12, 7-5) and pitched six full innings, striking out five batters and only allowing two runs.
“I’ve gotten a few starts under my belly now, I’m feeling comfortable out there,” Sheridan said. “Week to week, I just feel better and better. I don’t think I had my best stuff today, but I was still comfortable enough with what I was doing and what I’ve done in the past in order to make pitches in the right situations. They had a lot of pressure on base during the game, and I was able to make pitches when I had to, even without my best stuff.”
Having four runs in the first helped him settle into the mode of the game as he continued to pitch.
“When we scored those four runs in the bottom of the first, it just gives me some more wiggle room,” Sheridan said. “It lets the defense be a little more easy, and it makes it a lot easier to pitch.”
Also making an appearance on the mound for the Knights was redshirt junior RHP Jordan Scheftz, redshirt sophomore RHP Chris Williams, and sophomore LHP Bryce Tucker.
Collectively, these pitchers kept UConn scoreless through the last three innings of the game.
“The bullpen threw great,” Lovelady said. “Tucker was the best he’s been in three or four weeks, back to what he was early on in the season.”
After UCF put up four runs in the first inning, UConn couldn’t answer back. A combination of close calls, errors and lack of opportunities kept the Huskies trailing behind the Knights with no comeback in sight. UConn’s main struggle was trying to hit the ball, finishing with just nine hits compared to UCF’S fourteen. UConn also struggled to get players in scoring position on multiple occasions.
“We put pressure on them every inning and that’s what our offense is supposed to be about,” Lovelady said. “We’re making things happen on the bases, we’re putting pressure on guys to make people feel uncomfortable on the mound and we’re able to take advantage of that stuff.”
The next game for the Knights will be this upcoming Friday, April 28, against Memphis.
Taya Britten is a contributor for the Central Florida Focus. You can follow her on Twitter at @tayabritten and you can email the sports team at EvanA@centralfloridafocus.com.