Knights win fifth straight season opener

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Bryan Levine

Knights' catcher Chris Taladay during his first bat of the new season.

The UCF Knights beat the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds 13-7. A crowd of 2,038, sixth largest in school history helped kick off UCF’s 40th baseball season Friday night.

UCF had an early lead, but ended up being tied 7-7 in the seventh inning. Two runs during the seventh inning, along with four other runs during the eighth, helped the Knights win their season opener.

“No matter what, win the last three (innings),” said head coach Terry Rooney after the game. “The first six are important, but no matter what happens if you are down, you have to have confidence to battle your way back, and if you are up, you have to have the poise to hold onto it. We did that tonight. I told our guys that we did a good job of battling back. The reason we did that was because of our confidence, but play much better fundamental baseball.”

The Knights drew 19 walks, which broke UCF’s previous record of 16.

“It was opening night, in a lot of ways you could see it,” said Rooney, who has won every season opener with UCF.

Junior Ronnie Richardson said, “Everybody was game ready, everybody as a little nervous we have a lot of new guys out there.” The top five newcomers were Eric Skoglund, Garret Nuss, Roman Madrid, Nick Carrillo, James Vazquez, and Tommy Williams.

Former Knight Beau Taylor, catcher from 2009-2011, threw the first pitch and was honored before the game. Taylor was drafted by the Oakland A’s in 2011.

An additional 1,100 bench-back seats along the first base line were opened as part of Phase I of UCF’s “Step Up to the Plate” campaign.

“All of the stadium renovations is all part of building a program and continuing to enhance it. We had a good crowd tonight I hope they keep coming out,” said Rooney. Phase II construction will be built following the 2012 baseball season.

Knights will play a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1 p.m. with an hour in between each game, due to expected weather on Sunday.