Knights edge out Rattlers 6-4

ORLANDO – Erik Hempe, Parker Webster and JoMarcos Woods prove vital as they help guide the University of Central Florida Knights to a win against the Florida A&M Rattlers 6-4 at the Jay Bergman Field on Tuesday, March 12.

“Listen, I am proud that we hung in there and battled all the way until the end. We talked about before the game today and we are going to have to earn every victory,” said UCF head coach Terry Rooney. “Earn your victories when you’re out there, and those guys earned it today.”

Early on the Knights had a chance to grab the lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to a catcher’s interference on James Vasquez with one out in the inning.

“At the end of the day we got to get a little bit tougher offensively. We need to be a little bit tougher mentally,” said Rooney.

Immediately in the next play, UCF failed to capitalize on that opportunity with Hempe striking out and Vasquez caught stealing by the catcher on a unconventional double play to end the first inning.

UCF finally got on the score board in the bottom of the fourth inning when Hempe hit a home run to left field to score Vasquez after he doubled to right center before to make the score 2-0 UCF over FAMU. It was Hempe’s second home run of the season and 13th RBI of the season, which puts him third on the team with RBI’s on the season.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Webster hit a home run to left field to extend UCF’s lead to 3-0 over FAMU. It was Webster’s first home run of the season and his seventh RBI of the season as well. It was Webster’s ninth game starting in left field.

“It feels good to finally get a pitch and actually make good contact with it,” said Webster. “I didn’t think it was out to be honest.”

Florida A&M battled back as they tied the game up at 3-3 with a productive top of the sixth.

FAMU got on the score board when Sylvester Peck singled to left field to drive home Reginald Grant and Marlon Gibbs to make the score 3-2 UCF.

The score was tied when Ryan Debi doubled down the right field line to score Peck.

The Knights retook the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Woods singled over the shortstop’s outstretched glove with the bases loaded to score Ryan Breen and Webster to make the score 5-3 UCF. After that UCF never gave up their lead, but they did get a scare from FAMU in the eighth inning.

FAMU cut the lead to one in the top of the eighth inning, when Kendal Weeks reached on a fielder’s choice which scored Ben Robinson to make the score 5-4 Knights.

Austin Johnston increased the Knights lead to 6-4, when he hit a sack fly to right field that scored Chris Taladay.

Starter Brian Adkins went six innings, allowed three runs, three earned runs and four strikeouts.

“Brian Adkins threw a decent game, gave up those two out hits,” said Rooney.

Winning pitcher Spencer Davis came in to relief starter Adkins. Davis went three innings, allowed two hits, one run, one earned run, a walk and five strikeouts.

“Spence came in and did a nice job, came in there and threw strikes,” said Rooney.

UCF leads the all-time series versus Florida A&M with a record of 16-2-1.

The UCF Knights also have a very busy schedule, after tonight’s game they play five games in a row with the series finale against FAMU on March 13 and then start a four game series with Columbia from March 15-18.

The UCF Knights’ next game is the series finale against the Florida A&M Rattlers at 6:30 p.m. at Jay Bergman Field on March 13.