Ronnie Richardson’s game-winning double in the eighth inning scored Travis Shreve from first base lifting #19 UCF to a 2-1 victory over #25 East Carolina in the Conference USA opener for both schools at Jay Bergman Field.
With the game knotted a one-all, Richardson laced a double to deep left center plating Shreve, who reached on an infield single to start the frame to the back of the pitchers mound and out of reach of Kevin Brandt and second baseman Tim Younger.
Joe Rogers (2-0) got the win after tossing two hitless innings of relief with a pair of strikeouts. Brian Adkins was stellar in his seventh start of the season scattering five hits over seven innings and allowing one run (earned) with a pair of punch outs. At one point, Adkins retired 13-straight from the last out of the second until John Wooten’s single to start the seventh.
Brandt (3-2) suffered the loss despite tossing his third complete game of his career. The left-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts in his sixth quality start of the season. Brandt allowed just one extra base hit, five singles (two infield hits), and recorded 11 fly outs and nine ground outs.
Trailing 2-1 in the ninth, Corey Thompson struck out on a questionable pitch low and way for the first out of the frame. Wooten, who extended his current hit streak to eight games, drew a one-out walk and was immediately lifted for pinch runner Bryan Bass. Drew Reynolds followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice where Bass was forced out at second and Chase McDonald line out to first to end the game.
ECU took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to back-to-back two-out doubles from Zach Wright and Ben Fultz. Wright laced his team-leading fifth two-base hit to center and Fultz followed with a double down the right field line plating Wright.
UCF tied game at one in the third inning on a sac fly by Darnell Sweeney that pushed across Shreve, who recorded the Knights first hit of the night with a single to right field. After a passed ball moved him into scoring position, an infield single from Richardson put him 90 feet away.
The Pirates hit the ball hard all night but came away with only five hits as they drilled several line drives right at the UCF players. In the first inning, the Pirates got a pair of leadoff singles from Jack Reinheimer and Philip Clark, but a line drive off the bat of Thompson was caught by Chris Taladay at the hot corner, who tossed over to second – doubling up Reinheimer. Wooten would end the frame and leaving Clark stranded with a ground out to Adkins down the first base line.
ECU put a charge into a couple of Adkins pitches in the sixth and seventh, but Sweeney robbed Reinheimer of a base hit deep in the whole behind second and left fielder Nick Carrillo kept a pair of runs of the board in the seventh. After Wooten singled to start the stanza, Reynolds flied out to left field, where Carrillo charged in on a shallow fly ball. McDonald followed and squared one up, but Carrillo again flashed the leather robbing the first baseman of a potential two-run homer leaping at the wall and making a game-saving grab for the second out.
The two teams will play again at 4 p.m. Saturday, and they will finish the series with a nationally televised game at 1 p.m. Sunday on Fox Sports Net. Left-hander Tyler Joyner (3-0, 1.97 ERA) will get the nod for the Pirates, while the Knights will send right-hander Ben Lively (3-0, 3.46 ERA) to the hill.