UCF’s Harrison Hukari solidifying himself in Knights’ bullpen


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Harrison Hukari has been the Knights’ top lefty pitcher out of the bullpen in 2015.

Harrison Hukari earned his fourth win of the season on Tuesday night after James Vasquez’s bases-loaded single lifted the Knights past Jacksonville in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Averaging 18 pitches per inning, the 6-foot-6 inch left-hander remained calm, confident and efficient through the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Facing 13 batters, Hukari surrendered two hits, two walks and no runs.

Hukari entered the game in the seventh inning with the score tied at 5-5 and excelled with pressure of maintaining a tied game.

“I’ll be honest with you, I love it,” Hukari said. “The biggest thing is if you split each pitch, you take a deep breath each pitch and you just control your emotions and control your body and everything else that goes with it. I think that’s the easiest way to handle it.”

Hukari improved his record to 4-1 and the team improved to 24-10 as they bounced back from a 1-3 stretch over the last four games.

Hukari returned this season after sitting out in 2014 for personal reasons. Hukari will avoid losing a year of eligibility because he was red-shirted. He is now heavily relied on by his teammates and coaches for success on the mound.

“I’ve asked a lot of [Harrison],” head coach Terry Rooney said. “He works really hard and he deserves that success.”

Hukari improved his record to 4-1 and lowered his earned run average to 3.93 following the win on Tuesday night. Fourth on the UCF pitching staff in innings pitched, he has made more appearances than any other pitcher for the Knights this season.

As a freshman in 2012, Hukari appeared in seven games, pitched nine innings and had an impeccable earned run average of 1.00.

Then as a sophomore Coach Rooney increased the lefty’s workload to 17 innings in a span of 13 appearances. He ended his second season with another solid earned run average of 3.71. He is now the go-to guy out of the bullpen for the Knights.

The Knights will host the University of Connecticut for a three-game series beginning on Friday to resume play in the American Athletic Conference.