Richardson comes up clutch, UCF defeats Miami 4-1

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Mary Stevens / Valencia Voice

Roman Madrid receives praise from his teammates after getting out of a tough situation in the seventh inning.

UCF needed just four hits to defeat the Miami Hurricanes 4-1, as the Knights picked up their first win of the season against one of the “Big Three” Florida schools.

With losses against Florida, Florida State, and Miami already this season, the Knights needed a win Wednesday night to avoid being swept by all three teams.

“It’s a great win against an outstanding team, but we’re an outstanding team, too,” said head coach Terry Rooney. “UCF is an outstanding team, we show up and we expect to play well.”

Center fielder Ronnie Richardson crushed a pitch down the left field line and drilled the foul pole, for a solo-shot in the third inning. Richardson also made six putouts in the field, two of which were extra-base hit saving catches.

“Great players rise up in the biggest of situations, and Ronnie did it again,” said Rooney of Richardson who scored two of UCF’s four runs in the game.

UCF first baseman D.J. Hicks went 2-for-3 on the night with two doubles, two runs, and an RBI. The RBI gives Hicks 43 on the season, and sole possession of the nation’s lead. Hicks was named to the midseason All-American team by Baseball America earlier this week. He is the fifth player all-time and first position player in school history to earn the honor.

Rooney continued his mid-week trend of throwing multiple pitchers, as six different UCF pitchers combined to allow one run on seven hits, while striking out 10.

Freshman Eric Skoglund started the game for UCF, but was yanked after the second inning before any damage could be done. Ben Lively also threw two innings in the game, as both Lively and Skoglund are former members of Rooney’s weekend rotation.

“We’ve been pitching very well as of late,” said Rooney. “Ben struggled out of the starting role, but guys can get back into sync when they come out of the bullpen, and he did a great job.”

The back-end of the UCF bullpen was as consistent, as usual. Roman Madrid and Joe Rogers shut Miami out in the final eight outs of the game.

“I think the end of our bullpen is as good as any in the country,” said Rooney. “When you look at it statistically, what Joe and Roman have done is awesome.”

With the win, UCF improves to 24-6 on the season as they now turn their focus to this weekend’s conference matchup against UAB. The Knights have a 5-1 record in conference play, and will welcome the Blazers to Orlando for a three game set over the holiday weekend.

UCF is expected to stick with the same rotation as last weekend, which means Brian Adkins will start Friday night, followed my Chris Matulis and Ray Hanson in the next two games.

Adkins will be making his ninth start of the season and is 2-0 on the season, with a 4.61 era. The junior has had a roller coaster season so far, but settled down a bit since the beginning of conference play two weeks ago.

“We need to need our starters go deep into the games this weekend,” said Rooney. “Last week we pitched very well.”