Rodgers’ complete-game gives UCF bullpen extra day of rest in AAC tournament


Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

Zach Rodgers pitched his first complete game of the season, in UCF’s 7-1 win over UConn, Wednesday afternoon. The Knights play the Temple Owls tonight at 7 p.m. in the second round of tournament play.

Heading into the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament, the UCF Knights pitching staff knew how important it would be for them to get off to a hot start. After the first day of the AAC tournament, the pitching staff did just that.

Starting pitcher Zach Rodgers threw a complete-game on Wednesday, allowing just one run, to help lead the Knights to a 7-1 win against the UConn Huskies at Bright House Field in Clearwater.

The complete game ensures the Knights’ bullpen will get at least one more day of rest, and with the possibility of ace pitcher Eric Skoglund going on Thursday, the bullpen could be in great shape heading into Friday’s game and a possible conference championship game on Sunday.

“First of all, for [Rodgers] to throw nine innings on opening day, it helps,” said Knights head coach Terry Rooney. “We talked about that a lot on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday series our starter going deep and trying to get to the other team’s starter because that’s the game within the game.”

Rooney may have shocked a few people on Wednesday opting to start Rodgers over Skoglund in the first game of the tournament, but Rooney said the move was designed to give Skoglund an extra day of rest.

“We have confidence in a lot of guys and if you look at those guys’ numbers they’re both great pitchers and they’re both all-conference pitchers,” said Rooney. “It was simply designed that we wanted to give Skoglund an extra day of rest.”

While Skoglund was given the day off on Wednesday, Rooney wasn’t quite ready to name him as Thursday’s starter.

“I would say it’s a possibility and I’ll make a decision [on Thursday] at the latest,” Rooney said.

With the offense putting up six runs in the second inning on Wednesday, it may not matter who the Knights’ pitcher is if they continue hitting well.

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