Knights sweep three game series

The UCF Knights kicked off their baseball season by claiming victory over the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds in the three game series.

The Knights won both of Saturday’s doubleheader, 9-1. Preseason Conference Player of the Year, D.J. Hicks, led the offensive strike in both games. Hicks hit two home runs and ended the series with .538 and a seven RBIs.

“It’s all about the first one. As soon as you can get the first one out the way you can slow down,” said Hicks after the game.

During the first game, Hicks’ two-run double created a gap early in the game, which the Blackbirds couldn’t overcome. In the last game, he once again created similar gap when he hit two home runs.

Even though the Knights won the Friday opener, they struggled to win.

“Yesterday we did not really play well fundamentally,” said head coach Terry Rooney. “We need to play fundamentally sound. We have a very talented team but we have to play the game. When we don’t play the game you can see what happened last night it was back and forth tied in the seventh inning.”

That was not the case during the doubleheader on Saturday. The Knights won both games with a big lead.

“As far as getting the kids the amount of innings what we are looking for when you go into the weekend you want your starters to get five innings you hope with the sixth inning as a bonus,” said Rooney. “Chris Matulis did that. Ben (Lively) got five and Chris got six.”

Pitcher, Matulis won his first game as a Knight. During the last game, Matulis allowed four hits, one run, and stuck out five.

“It felt pretty good pretty anxious in the beginning. After that first hit and that first run I had to calm down then just relax,” said Matulis following the game. “I haven’t been pitching normal in almost three years. It feels good to be healthy again.”

The St. Louis Cardinals in the 29th round of the 2011 MLB Draft drafted Matulis.

Rookies such as, James Vasquez, Eric Skoglund, and Garrett Nuss were a big part of all three games.

“Eric Skoglund and Garrett Nuss in a lot of ways the future of our pitching staff,” said Rooney. Freshman pitchers Nuss and Skoglund made their UCF debuts and pitched two innings and struck out three batters.

“There were a lot of great individual performances. As a group and as a team we played better today than we did yesterday,” said Rooney.

No. 21 Knights will travel to Gainesville Wednesday to play No. 1 Gators at 7 p.m.

“We are excited to go up on Wednesday and play the No. 1 ranked team in the country it should be a great ball game,” said Rooney.