UCF downs No. 2 Florida in front of record home crowd


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Erik Barber scored two runs and drove in another in No. 9 UCF’s 4-3 win over No. 2 Florida.

ORLANDO — Erik Barber scored two runs and drove in another as the No. 9 UCF Knights defeated the No. 2 Florida Gators 4-3 in front of a record crowd of 4,319 at Jay Bergman Field on Tuesday.

After three and a half scoreless innings UCF put up two runs in the bottom of the fourth, first on a Tommy Williams sacrifice fly that scored Dylan Moore from third after he was hit by a pitch to leadoff the inning. Erik Barber would score the Knights second run of the game when he came around to score from second on a single to left field by James Vasquez.

“[Barber] is consistent; I think that’s one word that comes to mind from last year to this year is he’s consistent,” said UCF head coach Terry Rooney of his senior outfielder. “He continually gets those great at bats throughout the game and he just gets the job done. He’s the epitome of a real hitter, Barb has done a great job for us and is off to another great start this year.”

Barber finished the game batting 1-3 with two runs scored and an RBI batting in the three spot for UCF. He had the luxury of having Williams batting behind as the senior third baseman drove in three runs while going 1-2 from the plate.

Williams drove in two more runs with a two-out double that scored Derrick Salberg and Barber to give the Knights a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth.

“It feels great,” said Williams about batting cleanup behind Barber. “He gets on base a lot so it gives me a lot of opportunities to drive in runs.”

Florida scored their first run of the game on a Josh Tobias fielder’s choice that scored Harrison Bader to cut UCF’s lead to 2-1 after the top of the fifth inning.

The Gators cut UCF’s lead to 4-3 when Dalton Guthrie drove in two runs with a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh inning off Knights reliever Harrison Hukari.

Hukari finished the game pitching 2.2 innings giving up three hits and two earned runs on the way to his third win of the season. He came into pitch in relief of freshman starting pitcher Kyle Marsh, who went four innings and allowed one earned run on two hits in his first collegiate start.

“It took a lot of guys but the bottom line is they got it done,” said Rooney after the big win. “I don’t care how we do it. We knew going in that we wanted to get [Kyle Marsh] some innings.”

UCF used three pitchers after Hukari to secure the win, with Trent Thompson pitching the final two innings and recording his second save of the season and the Knights’ fifth win against a ranked opponent this season.

With the win over the Gators (10-2) marks only the third time the Knights (11-1) have beaten a second-ranked team since 2001. UCF now trails Florida 15-24 in the all-time series.

The Knights will travel to Gainesville to take on the Gators on Wednesday in the second game of a home-and-home series. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. with the game being televised on the SEC Network.