( – Edited version of release from UCF Athletics – )
Brian Adkins tossed three scoreless innings of relief and Joe Rogers pitched a perfect ninth to deliver a 5-4 victory on the road against no. 23 Rice on Sunday. Combined with a 7-2 triumph on Friday, the Knights (18-6, 2-1) posted their first series win over the Owls (16-11, 1-2). next up for UCF is a home-and-home against no. 28 Stetson beginning Tuesday in Orlando.
“That was a tremendous team effort for the entire weekend,” said head coach Terry Rooney. “We call every Sunday ‘Championship Sunday.’ Regardless of the first two days, Sunday is always the most important game of the series. For today’s game, all you have to do is look at the back-and-forth of the score, and then to see us hold on late on the road certainly speaks volumes about the confidence and presence of our team.”
It was the first time UCF won its C-USA opening series since 2006 when it took two of three against Marshall. Dating back to last year, the Knights have now claimed the series in each of their last two C-USA road trips (also defeated Tulane in New Orleans to end the 2010 campaign).
Adkins entered in the fourth inning in a bases-loaded jam with Rice leading 3-2 and proceeded to shut down the Owls. The lefty, who had only started midweek games until Sunday, moved his record to 4-1 after allowing just three hits.
“Basically I was just trying to fill up the zone, and once again the defense played great behind me,” said Adkins. “My mindset was a little bit different coming out of the pen. But in each individual inning I was trying to close out the game. Each inning was its own entity for me, so I was just trying to go hitter by hitter.”
Adkins gave way to Rogers in the seventh, who picked up his fifth save of the year, highlighted by retiring hitters two, three and four in the ninth.
“I was mentally prepared in the bullpen when I saw how well Brian pitched,” said Rogers. “It was cool how (facing potential no. 1 MLB pick Anthony Rendon in the ninth) was drawn up. I wanted to go after Rendon because he is potentially a high-draft pick, so I threw him a two-seamer and I guess it just tailed on him and he hit it to Darnell Sweeney at short. he made a great play to end it. And Beau Taylor did an excellent job behind the plate for me.”
Jonathan Griffin banged out three hits. Ronnie Richardson reached base four times with two hits and a pair of walks, and D.J. Hicks and Erik Hempe also rapped out two hits.
The Knights led 2-0 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, where Rice posted three runs against Ray Hanson. three more runs over the course of the fifth and sixth innings put UCF up 5-3 before the Owls posted a run in the eighth.
Rice won the second game of the series 6-2 on Saturday.
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UCF Knights get first Series Win over no. 23 Rice - Orlando Sports Central