@UofMBaseball Sweeps UCF with 8-7 Victory Sunday at FedExpark
April 7, 2013
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Five runs scored with two outs in the fifth and a RBI double by Zach Willis in the eighth led Memphis (18-13, 5-4 C-USA) to a series sweep of UCF (18-15, 4-5 C-USA) with an 8-7 victory Sunday at FedExPark.
After UCF knotted the score a 7-7 in the top half of the eighth, Colton Simbeck drew a leadoff walk to spark Memphis' run to the lead. A sacrifice bunt moved Simbeck to scoring position and Willis delivered the clutch RBI double to the left-centerfield gap to give Memphis the 8-7 lead.
Memphis starter Alex Gunn had walked five batters over eight starts and 35 innings coming into Sunday's game, but the junior lefty walked three in the third to load the bases with two outs. Chris Taladay made him pay, hitting a two-run single to centerfield to give the Knights a 2-0 lead. Gunn stranded runners on first and second to end the inning with the benefit of a fly out to left.
The Tigers responded in the third to cut the Knights lead to 2-1, but the U of M left runners on the corners to end the bottom half of the third. Colton Simbeck took a one-out walk to get the rally going and he moved to third on a double to leftfield by Jake Little. Zach Willis plated Simbeck with an RBI groundout to second to make the score 2-1. Ethan Gross worked a two-out walk to put runners on the corners, but UCF starter Eric Skoglund got out of the jam with a fly out.
UCF answered with two more runs in the fourth to increase the lead to 4-1. The leadoff man was hit by a pitch and the Tigers went to reliever Jon Reed. A fielder's choice retired the runner at second but a double down the right field line put runners on second and third with one out. Brett Gordon drove in one with a RBI single through the left side and JoMarcus Woods singled through the right side to drive in the second one. Reed forced a pop out in foul territory before striking out the next batter to strand runners on second and third to end the inning.
In the five-run fifth, the Tigers collected five hits, while UCF walked one and hit another batter. Back-to-back singles by Keaton Aldridge and Simbeck got it going and Little laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up to second and third. After a fly out was too shallow to plate a run, Gross doubled up the middle to score two runs, bringing the Tigers within one run. Tucker Tubbs kept the two-out rally alive with a single through the left side to tie the game and Drew Griffin came up with the go-ahead RBI, a two-run single to left field. UCF ended the damage with a groundout to first after making a second move to the bullpen in the inning.
The Knights got one run back in the seventh, but UCF stranded the potential tying run at second to end the top half of the inning. Taladay got the Knights going with a single up the middle and he stole second on strike three with the next hitter, moving to third after nobody covered second base on the throw. James Vasquez brought in Taladay with a one-out single to left, but was stranded at second to end the frame. With an 0-2 count and two outs, Memphis went to reliever Craig Caufield and the first pitch he saw was a called third strike, crediting reliever Conner Porter with the strikeout.
Austin Hatfield laced a double to the gap in left-centerfield to spark Memphis to an answer-back run in the bottom half of the seventh. Tubbs flew out to centerfield, but the fly out was deep enough to allow Hatfield to advance to third. With the infield drawn in, Carter White ripped a single to right field, scoring Hatfield and giving Memphis the 7-5 lead.
UCF knotted the score at 7-7 in the eighth with a two-run single by Taladay. Gordon led off the inning with a single down the right field line and a two out walk put runners on first and second. A wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third before Taladay delivered the game-tying single up the middle.
Heith Hatfield went to the mound in the ninth looking for the win, but it didn't come easy as the Knights put the potential tying run on the third and the winning run stood on second. Vasquez singled and moved to second on a fielders' choice to start it off, moving to second on a bunt from Spencer Haynes. The Tigers' cleanly fielded Haynes' bunt, but opted to try for the out at second, but overthrew the mark, putting both Vasquez and Haynes on second and first. Austin Johnson put down another UCF bunt, which Memphis again cleanly fielded and fired to third, where they got Vasquez, leaving runners on first and second with one away. A passed ball allowed both Johnston and Haynes to advance and UCF lifted Johnston from second for a pinch-runner. Hatfield struck out Brett Gordon for the second out and facing the top of the order, Hatfield induced JoMarcus Woods into a groundout to shortstop to secure the 8-7 victory.
Hatfield picked up the win for Memphis, his second of the season, while Brian Adkins took the loss for UCF. Memphis sweeps a Conference USA series for the first time this season and improves to 5-4 in league play following three conference series. The Tigers host a pair of midweek games against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday and Wednesday at FedExPark. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.