UCF rout UConn in opening game of conference tournament

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Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

Zach Rodgers pitched his first complete game of the season, in UCF's 7-1 win over UConn.

CLEARWATER — Derrick Salberg and the UCF Knights used a six run second inning to come away with a 7-1 victory over the UConn Huskies in the first game of the American Athletic Conference tournament on Wednesday at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.

Zach Rodgers started the game for the Knights, surprisingly getting the nod over ace pitcher Eric Skoglund. Rodgers would go on to get the win after pitching a complete game and giving up one run on five hits.

“Definitely a good way to get the week started,” said Rodgers after the game. “Come out swinging the bats really well, it makes my job a lot easier to go out and pound the zone.”

UCF scored one run in the first, thanks to a James Vasquez sacrifice fly that scored Dylan Moore from third base.

The Knights did the rest of their damage in the bottom of the second inning when they scored six runs on four hits and batted through the order.

“I thought our guys did a nice job obviously in that inning, a lot of hits with two outs.” said UCF head coach Terry Rooney about the big six run inning.” We talk about that a lot, taking two-out RBIs and I thought that really set the tone and we built upon that momentum.”

UConn would get a run back in the top of the sixth inning when Blake Davey drove in Jack Sundberg with a two-out double down the right field line.

Rodgers would go on to finish out the game and earn his first complete game of the season.

“I’ll enjoy it for a little bit,” said Rodgers. “The bigger picture is to go win a championship here, so gotta flush it and restart.”

Vasquez finished the game batting 1-2 with two runs batted in, while Salberg went 1-4 with two more RBIs.

UCF’s next game in the tournament will be on Thursday against the Temple Owls at 7 p.m. AAC Pitcher of the Year Eric Skoglund could potentially take the mound tomorrow for the Knights, but that’s a decision Rooney hasn’t made yet.

“I would say it’s a possibility,” said Rooney when asked if Skoglund would get the start against Temple. “I’ll make that decision tomorrow at the latest.”

Skoglund won his only matchup of the year against the Owls, going five innings, while giving up three runs on seven hits.