Just one night after losing 4-3 to the number two team in the nation, UCF coach Greg Lovelady felt that his team had a good opportunity to prove themselves early in the season.
The Knights did just that on Wednesday Behind a great night on the mound by freshman pitcher Joe Sheridan and a 6-RBI night from Kyle Marsh, the Knights did just that, dominating the Florida Gators, 11-2.
“Yesterday we came out a little stiff, we played like we weren’t sure if we belonged on the same field and after the game I told the guys that we blew that game last night and we had a chance to win it but we need to come out tomorrow with a little more confidence,” said Lovelady. “Tonight, we had the ability to win this game and we did exactly that and I’m really proud of the guys.”
UCF got things started in the first with a leadoff triple from Eli Putnam. The very next batter Luke Hamblin singled bringing in Putnam. Hamblin stole second base, and Marsh brought him home with an RBI double.
After one inning of play, the Knights led 2-0 over the Gators, and they never looked back.
The freshman Sheridan was making his first career collegiate start for UCF. Sheridan, an Orlando native, went 4 innings, allowing 4 hits and one run, but struck out four Gators.
“He was awesome tonight,” said Marsh. “I actually just told him that my freshman year I beat them too here so we have something in common. He was phenomenal tonight, he’s going to do great things for us.”
Marsh sent a homerun deep to left field in the 3rd which scored two runs. Ryan Crile singled and Rylan Thomas hit an RBI double extending the lead to 5-0 in the 4th.
Florida scored off a balk by Sheridan after getting a runner to third base. Crile responded with a homerun of his own. UCF led 6-1 entering the 6th after Crile’s solo shot to center.
“I feel good,” said Sheridan. “We played really well tonight, capitalizing a lot of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on last night. I actually didn’t think I pitched my best, I was behind in a lot of the counts. I found my pitches later and had a good slider going tonight. It was all working.”
Jordan Scheftz came into pitch for the Knights and struck out two batters. After a Luke Hamblin walk in the 6th, Marsh stepped to the plate and delivered a bases-clearing double opening the game up, 9-1.
“I was hitting the ball very well. I just wanted to go up there and have a team at-bat and help my team out. Overall, I was hitting the ball really well and it was great,” said Marsh.
Kam Gellinger brought two more runs in for the Knights in the bottom of the 7th, setting the final score at 11-2. Bryce Tucker came in as closer and struck out two Gators earning the save.
This was the 8th win of season for Coach Lovelady and a big one as the team split the two-game series with UF. UCF (8-1) faces Stony Brook in a three-game series this weekend.
“We played like we belonged today,” said Lovelady, who has won 8 of his first 9 games at UCF. “I think we showed a lot of people what type of team we can be possibly be. We set the standard for the team for the rest of the year. We’ve got to come out every day and play the same way and if we do that, we have a chance to win a lot of games.”