Taladay comes up clutch; Knights beat Harvard 4-3

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Mary Stevens / Valencia Voice

Pitcher Chris Matulis earns his second win of the season.

The UCF bats woke up in the eighth inning, as the Knights finally found themselves on the winning side of a one-run game, beating Harvard 4-3.

Chris Taladay’s booming solo-shot to tie the game up late in the game, helped UCF squeak by Harvard, Friday night at Jay Bergman Field.

“It felt really good. Sometimes you just know when you get it, and I felt like I got that one,” said Taladay.

The home run was Taladay’s first of the season, and his second RBI on the night. The junior drove in the first run of the game, with a single in the first inning.

“Chris Taladay one of the most clutch players in the nation,” said head coach Terry Rooney. “When you’ve got a guy on base, that’s the guy you want up there.”

Rooney said, following the 3-2 loss to Miami Wednesday night, to expect a shake up in the lineup, and he delivered. Making his first start of the year, was Tommy Williams. The freshman capitalized on his opportunity, as he came through with the game winning RBI in the eighth.

The winning run was delivered on Williams’ sacrifice fly, which continued the small-ball trend UCF had throughout the game. Other than the Taladay blast, all UCF runs were driven in, or put into scoring position, because of sacrifice hits.

“That’s probably my favorite situation to hit in,” said Williams. “I just like to put it in the air, and give it to the outfielders.”

UCF Reliever Chris Matulis entered the game in the sixth inning, as starter Ben Lively left the game with a one-run deficit. Matulis hurled three strong innings, striking out four Crimson batters, while allowing just one hit.

“I think the story of the night, pitching-wise, was Chris Matulis,” said Rooney. “He stabilized everything, calmed everyone down, and gave us a chance to win.”

Lively threw a rocky five innings. The sophomore allowed three runs on nine hits, while ringing up six Harvard batters. Entering the game, Lively had only allowed 13 hits in 21 innings of work.

Second baseman Travis Shreve injured his hamstring while successfully beating out an infield single, in the first inning. Shreve stayed in the game for his next at-bat, but was later removed for freshman Spencer Haynes, who made an impressive game-ending double play in the field.

“His hammy was a little tight when he was coming down the line,” said Rooney. “We’ll see what Chris Joseph, our trainer, says later tonight.”

The three game series will continue tomorrow, as Eric Skoglund is expected to start for UCF. Skoglund was roughed up in his last appearance, as the freshman allowed nine hits in just three innings of work. Entering his last start, he had allowed just 10 hits, in five appearances.

“He’s still a freshman, and I thought his outing last week was typical of a freshman,” said Rooney. “He’s had a really good week of preparation, and I expect a better outing from him.”