By Bryan Levine
Following a heart-breaking loss to the USF Bulls, a game which went until the eighth inning, the UCF Knights set their sights to last weekend’s series against the Columbia Lions. Backed by solid hitting, the Knights’ pitching was dominant throughout the entire series.
The Knights swept the Lions with ease, scoring a combined 18 runs and only allowing 12. Led by Saturday’s starter, Ben Livley, starting pitchers for UCF combined for 15 innings pitched, seven earned runs, eleven hits and eight strike outs. Livley is responsible for six of the innings, two earned runs, five strike outs, and only three hits.
As great as the starters were, relievers were that much better. Dominant in every aspect of the game, they shut down Lion batters all weekend even when handed the ball with inherited trouble. Bryan Brown came into Friday night’s game in the third inning when the Knights were down 4-2. Five innings, five hits, and seven strikeouts later, the Knights were up 9-5 which was enough to clinch a win in the series opener.
“Story of the game: Bryan Brown,” said Coach Terry Rooney after the game. “Brown did an unbelievable job for us, MVP of the night.”
Prior to this weekend, UCF’s batters one through five have been the same all season long. Rooney decided to change up the order for this three game set, partially due to the struggling middle of the lineup but more specifically because of catcher Beau Taylor’s lack of production.
The new look lineup, led by now clean up hitter Ronnie Richardson, combined for a total of 18 runs scored on 30 hits. Four of those hits were credited to Richardson who also had four RBIs to boast.
“I told you guys last year, I said Ronnie Richardson is as clutch as there is. Which is why I moved him around,” said Rooney after the game about why he moved Richardson into the four hole.
Before heading to Houston to take on the Rice Owls to begin conference play, the Knights will head down south to play in state rivals Miami Hurricanes. Last season the Knights stole one from the then 12th ranked Hurricanes, 6-3. The Knights are very optimistic heading into conference play, as they currently are in second place with a 16-4 record.
The Knights are coming off a 13 game home-stand in which they went 10-3 and are looking forward to hitting the road and testing their team..
“I am ready to get on that plane to go down to Houston, and if you survey 33 players in that locker room I bet they say they’re ready,” said Rooney about ending the home-stand and heading into the most important stretch of the season.
Following the Rice series they come back to Florida for a home-at-home with the Stetson Hatters.