Knights squeak by UMass

Knights squeak by UMass

Bryan Levine / Valencia Voice

(File Photo) D.J. Hicks launched his sixth home run of the season, as UCF defeated UMass 5-4, Saturday evening at Jay Bergman Field.

Despite a sloppy afternoon, UCF managed to hold off the UMass Minute Men 5-4, Saturday at Jay Bergman Field.

Freshman starter Eric Skoglund struggled early in his second start of the season. In three innings of work, the lefty allowed four runs (one earned) on nine hits. Skoglund had allowed just 10 hits total in his previous five appearances.

“He needs to get better,” said head coach Terry Rooney. “Maybe he was just trying to do a little bit too much, too soon. But he’s going to be fine.”

RHP Garrett Nuss relieved Skoglund in the fourth inning, and threw a near perfect outing. The freshman, in his sixth appearance of the season, struck out five batters, walked just one, and didn’t allow a hit in four innings of work.

“I just went out there and felt good. I was just trying to establish my fastball on the outer half.” said Nuss. “It’s a good feeling, knowing [Rooney] has confidence in me.

Junior closer Joe Rogers entered the game in the ninth, and recorded his third save of the season – the 20th of his career. Rogers’ final out came on a chopper to third baseman Nick Carrillo, who fired the ball to first baseman D.J. Hicks, who made an alert throw to Ryan Breen, who applied the tag to end the game.

Hicks belted his sixth homer of the season, breaking a 4-4 tie in the fifth inning. The home run was also Hicks’ 26th RBI of the season, and it extended his hit streak to 10 games.

Short stop Darnell Sweeney had three errors in the game, two of which came in the second inning. Along with a Skoglund pass ball, the three errors led to three runs for UMass in the inning.

“That’s baseball. Things like that are going to happen. We just need to focus on things that we can control,” said Rooney.

These two teams will wrap up their three game series Sunday afternoon, as UCF will attempt to sweep their third series of the season. Junior Brian Adkins is expected to start for the Knights.

Adkins has improved greatly over his last two starts, despite earning a no decision in Tuesday’s loss against FSU.

“He’s on short rest obviously, but I’m trying to position him – to what I hope is the future and get him back into the weekend rotation,” said Rooney. “Brian pitched fantastic against Florida State, so we’re going to get him back out there and get as much out of him as we can.”