UCF use ninth inning rally to claim opening night win


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Cre Finfrock went five innings, giving up three earned runs on three hits in a no decision.

ORLANDO — Matthew Mika hit a bases loaded walk-off single to give the UCF Knights an opening day victory as they took Game 1 over the Siena Saints 10-9 to bring the Knights winning streak on opening night to nine in a row.

Mika’s walk-off came with the bases loaded and one out, as he scored Brennan Bozeman from third to start the Knights’ season off with a win.

“You don’t really think about these things, it’s kind of just at the moment,” said Mika following his walk-off single. “You feel it, it’s like an adrenaline rush and you just feel it all at the same time. It was great getting swarmed by all of my teammate.”

Kam Gellinger cut the Saints lead to 9-5 with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning and then the Knights put together a ninth inning rally which ended with the walk-off single by Mika. UCF’s rally consisted of five runs on seven hits as the Knights sent all nine batters to the plate.

Finfrock went through the opening five innings without giving up a run but in the sixth inning he failed to record an out before being relieved by Campbell Scholl. Scholl would then give up three consecutive singles before receiving the hook. When it was all said and done Siena scored eight runs in the sixth, with seven runs coming before the first out was recorded.

The Saints batted through the line up in the sixth and scored eight runs on six hits and two UCF errors.

Mika opened up the scoring in the third inning when he hit his first-ever collegiate home run to give the Knights a 1-0 lead early on. Matt Diorio then gave UCF a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning after a sacrifice fly scored Luke Hamblin from third.

“He’s a great player, we’ve been talking about the contributions that he can make,” said UCF head coach Terry Rooney of his freshman outfielder. “For a freshman to lead off and then have those big hits like he did, he’s a great player and he’s without question one of the best freshman in the country.”

The win improves Rooney to 8-0 on opening night since taking over at UCF in 2009.

UCF (1-0) will look to keep the bats going in Game 2 against Siena (0-1) on Saturday as Robby Howell takes the mound against Kyano Cummings, with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. from Jay Bergman Field.