UCF Knights weekend series recap against the Columbia Lions

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ORLANDO – The turnout for the University of Central Florida Knights weekend series at Jay Bergman Field against the Columbia Lions resulted in another series victory as they took the series three games to one.

This now marks the Knights’ fifth series victory out of five played so far this season, capping off victories over Siena, Winthrop, Jacksonville University, Florida A&M and now Columbia.

Game one of the four game set commenced with the Knights ace starter Ben Lively guiding his team to a smooth victory as UCF piled up 10 runs compared to Columbia’s three.

Lively pitched seven innings, allowed five hits and tied his career high in strikeouts with 11 as he improved his record to four wins and one loss for the season.

“Ben Lively did what he did, he gave us a chance to win tonight,” said UCF head coach Terry Rooney. “It certainly wasn’t his best performance tonight. Statistically it was good.”

Behind the pitching came earned offense as the Knights delivered five runs in the first three innings of play. Austin Johnston lead the way for UCF early as he scored in the first run of the game on a single to score Erik Hempe.

The Knights would also play some small ball and take advantage to steal three bases. Columbia would only go on to score their first run in the fifth inning and come up with two more in the ninth inning before they were shut down by UCF pitcher Tyler Martin to cap off game one.

The second game of series came down to within one run, as Columbia was able to get redemption as they defeated the Knights 5-4.

Columbia earned its offense starting early in the first inning as the Lions scored two runs to jump out to the quick 2-0 lead. After starting 3-0 for the season Danny Davis would take the mound for the Knights only to allow early offense.

“Credit Columbia, they deserved to win,” said Rooney. “They played better than us, they made more plays, they threw more strikes.”

UCF’s offense remained quiet until the sixth inning, when Parker Webster had an RBI double to left center field with the bases loaded to take the lead 3-2.

The Lions regained the lead in the top of the seventh inning when Ferraresi came up with one out and runners on first and second base. He cleared the bases with a double to left center field handing Columbia a 4-3 lead.

Columbia would go on to never let go of the lead and gain the final run off of a Jordan Serena double to left field off of UCF pitcher Spencer Davis to cap off the game with the 5-4 advantage.

Game three would give back the Knights the series as Chris Taladay assisted UCF with a 3-for-4 night as he broke into the all-time UCF hits list with 226 to pass Tyson Auer for No. 10 all-time.

“It’s a great feeling and we had some great players at UCF and that’s huge for me knowing that I can hit so well,” said Taladay about making it on the top 10 hitter’s list.

Brian Adkins took the mound for UCF as the Orlando native tossed 5 2/3 of three-hit baseball while allowing an unearned run and striking out five Columbia batters for his first win of the 2013 season, and 14th of his career.

Facing a 1-0 deficit, the Knights anwered in the third inning by taking advantage of two mishandled bunts after Tommy Williams (2-for-4, 1 RBI) singled to lead off the frame. After a sacrifice fly by Erik Hempe (1-for-3, 1 RBI), Taladay came through with the runners in motion by ripping a two-run double to right field to make the score 3-1.

Overall, the Lions would commit six errors as the Knights would put up six runs compared to Columbia’s one to take a 2-1 series lead.

The last game of the series displayed the Knights dominance on how to close out a series. Eric Skoglund took the mound and pitched eight innings while allowing three hits. He began the game retiring the first nine batters he faced, including a four pitch inning.

“I thought that was his best performance of his career,” said Rooney. “He was out there and being aggressive, letting his fastball rip and throwing some pretty off speed pitches.”

The Knights defense committed no errors behing Skoglund and would go on to defeat the Lions 5-1. The two teams won’t meet again for the rest of the season and UCF will go on to play their next series consisting of three games against UAB from March 22-24.