After a series sweep over the Siena Saints in the opening weekend of the 2017 season, UCF increased its win streak to four after beating UNF 3-2 in a back-and-forth game.
The Ospreys (2-2) struck first with a run in the second inning and managed to add another in the seventh but failed to hold the Knights (4-0) in the meantime to secure a win. RBI’s from freshman first baseman and relief pitcher Rylan Thomas, redshirt sophomore infielder Kyle Marsh and senior infielder Ryan Crile allowed the Knights to cushion a vast pitching duel.
“It shows that we’re tough,” head coach Greg Lovelady said. “It’s easy when we get the lead and then we give it back to just get frustrated, but we don’t. It’s tough when a team staffs the game and are throwing a new pitcher pretty much every inning. It’s not easy because you can’t get into a rhythm. But I told the guys it’s good practice.”
Senior outfielder Luke Hamblin continued to shine as he went on to reach base twice while scoring on two separate occasions.
“Luke Hamblin is an unbelievable leader,” Lovelady said. “He just plays the game the right way. He’s one of the hardest workers on our team. He’s one of those guys when the lights come on, he shows up, and those are the types of players you need.”
In the top of the fifth inning, the Ospreys had the bases loaded but failed to score runs due to the Knights strong defense and some good pitching.
Redshirt sophomore Chris Williams started the game for the Knights, going four innings, allowing one run on five hits while striking out three. The Knights would go on to use six other pitchers including redshirt junior Jordan Scheftz who claimed the win and sophomore Bryce Tucker who claimed the save.
“To get the save and get the win, it’s unreal,” Tucker said. “Going into it there were some nerves there, a little anxious and jittery, but I think that helps a lot when you have to do something like that. You’ve got to really bunker down and go one-on-one with the hitter, and I think I did a pretty good job at that tonight.”
The Knights will prepare for a three-game series against Manhattan starting this Friday as they look to remain undefeated before facing off against Florida for a two-game series later in the month.
“Mid-week games are probably the hardest games to play and most important to win so that you can rally for the weekend,” Tucker said.
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.