Knights finish off on top, shutout Eagles 3-0

Knights finish off on top, shutout Eagles 3-0

Pitcher Ben Lively gave up no runs on six hits, and stroke out nine in the victory over Winthrop 3-0.

ORLANDO – Erik Hempe went 2-for-4 with one run batted in and one run scored, including a clutch two-out hit in the eighth inning as the University of Central Florida Knights defeated the Winthrop Eagles 3-0 on Friday, March 1 at Jay Bergman Field on the UCF Campus.

JoMarcos Woods went 1-for-4 with two runs batted in, both of which came during a big eighth inning for the Knights.

“Hempe today he got the clutch hit for us,” said Woods. “But we just tried playing fundamental baseball today and just make the routine plays.”

Winthrop pitcher Matt Pierpont pitched seven and two-thirds innings allowing three earned runs on three hits, while striking out seven.

“First of all, their pitcher did a great job,” said UCF head coach Terry Rooney after the game. “He was very, very good, and he did a good job, and he and Ben were going pitch to pitch the whole night.”

Ben Lively went eight innings for UCF, giving up no runs on six hits and striking out nine. The eight innings pitched by Lively was his longest since pitching a complete game against Wagner on March 12, 2011

“I was locked in the whole game,” said Lively. “It could have been 8-0, 0-0 the whole game, I was going to have the same mentality the whole time.”

Lively and Pierpont went pitch for pitch during the first seven innings, with Pierpont only giving up two hits and walking none before the eighth.

“That’s a Friday night game in college baseball in a lot of places,” said Rooney about the pitchers duel. “And that’s what it’s going to be, two outstanding pitchers.”

Pierpont retired 13 straight Knights going into the bottom of the eighth, before issuing his first walk of the game to Jeramy Matos with one out.

“The guy was good,” said Lively about the Winthrop starting pitcher. “We couldn’t hit in the beginning of the game. Like I said before I was locked in the whole time and I didn’t realize we were going to compete the whole game.”

Erik Barber then came in as a pinch runner for Matos. Barber later stole second to get himself into scoring position with one out.

After the Barber steal, Pierpont struck out Hunter Wildes before hitting Tommy Williams with a pitch to bring up leadoff hitter Erik Hempe with a runner in scoring position. Hempe was batting first in the lineup for the second consecutive game, after coach Rooney decided to change the lineup on Wednesday against Bethune-Cookman.

“Hempe’s a great hitter where ever he hits in the lineup,” said Rooney about his newest leadoff hitter. “At the end of the day the leadoff hitter you need to get on base, that’s a big part of it.”

Hempe later drove in UCF’s first run of the ballgame with a line drive single up the middle scoring Barber from second. After the Hempe RBI single, Winthrop brought in Mitchell Knox to relieve Pierpont.

Following the pitching change, Woods gave the Knights two insurance runs when he got a two-out RBI single off of Knox, extending the Knights lead to 3-0.

Spencer Davis came in to close the game for the Knights, retiring the first two batters before allowing Chad Smith to get to second base on an error by the second baseman. Davis later got Tony Brandner to ground out to second to record his second save of the season.

“I thought overall the guys did a good job,” said Rooney. “We hung in there and I just told them ‘this is what it’s going to be like most Friday’s coming up,’ so it’s a good win.”

With the win UCF’s record improved to 5-4 and snapped a two-game losing streak for the Knights, which included losses to USF and Bethune-Cookman.

Winthrop and UCF will play game two of a three-game series on Saturday, March 2 at 4:00 p.m. at Jay Bergman Field.