UCF slaughters Siena

Darnell Sweeney extended his hit streak to seven games, as UCF won it’s third in-a-row, beating Siena 12-4 Friday night at Jay Bergman Field.

“[Darnell] is really seeing the ball well. He’s had two great years for us, but I think he has taken it to a whole new level this season,” said head coach Terry Rooney.

Starting pitcher Ben Lively, who won his second decision of the season, surrendered just two hits, while striking out six Saints in five innings of work.

Lively’s lone run allowed was unearned, as third baseman Chris Taladay and catcher Ryan Breen booted infield pop ups on back-to-back batters.

“We kind of created our own jam there, but we’ve got to be better than that,” said Rooney. “But the bigger picture there is that the inning ends and your starter is at 96 pitches. That can’t happen.”

The UCF bullpen, led by freshman Garrett Nuss, effectively preserved Lively’s lead. Nuss blanked the Saints in all three innings pitched, and allowed just one hit, while striking out three.

“I just went out there and tried to hit my spots,” said Nuss. “I’m feeling confident, and I’ve been getting really big opportunities that I’m just trying to make the best of.:

The bottom third of UCF’s lineup continues to be very productive, as they combined for four runs, four hits, and four RBI.

Second baseman, and number nine hitter, Travis Shreve went 1-for-3 with a walk and drove in his ninth and tenth runs of the season.

Knights first baseman D.J. Hicks crushed a three-run shot to straight away center in the seventh inning of an already out of hand game. The home run give Hicks three on the season, with 18 RBI.

“D.J. is doing great, he’s doing what we all knew he could do,” said Rooney. “Guys are pitching him tough, and he’s recognizing the pitches he’s getting.

These two teams will continue their three game series, as game two is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Saturday evening.

The projected starter for UCF (8-2) is Chris Matulis, while Ryan Poplawski is expected to take the mound for Siena (1-8).

Matulis is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in two starts this season. He has eight strikeouts and four walks in just over 10 innings of work.

“We need him to go deep in the game tomorrow, and to be efficient in his pitching,” said Rooney.

Rooney also hinted the possible 2012 debut of senior Ray Hanson this weekend. Hanson has been sidelined for all 10 games so far with an injury.