Early Lead Not Enough as Memphis Falls to UCF, 11-9
April 23, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – UCF (26-14, 6-8 C-USA) scored four runs in the seventh inning and came back from an early 6-0 deficit to down the University of Memphis baseball team (23-17, 6-5 C-USA) 11-9 at FedExPark on Saturday.
Trailing by 8-7 in the seventh inning, the Knights used a grand slam home run by designated hitter D.J. Hicks to open an 11-8 lead. A leadoff single and two, one-out singles loaded the bases for Hicks.
T.J. Rich hit a solo home run to start the bottom of the ninth to cut the lead to 11-9. Phillip Chapman followed with a single to left field and advanced to second on a wild pitch. UCF reliever Nick Cicio struck out the next Tiger batter, but Adam McClain singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Cicio came back and recorded another strikeout to put two outs on the board. With two outs and runners on the corners, Ethan Gross drew a walk to load the bases for Drew Martinez. Cicio induced a ground ball of the bat of Martinez and the throw to first just beat Martinez to the bag to end the game.
Tiger southpaw Ryan Holland opened the game with a leadoff walk and Ronnie Richardson singled to put two runners on with no outs for the Knights. Holland battled back and escaped the first inning unscathed as a double play and a strikeout ended the frame. A leadoff walk to Martinez started the Tiger half of the first inning. Although Martinez was erased attempting to steal, Memphis would still grab a lead in the first. Chad Zurcher laced a single to left field and Jacob Wilson walked bringing Rich to the plate. Rich singled through the left side to drive in Zurcher and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Chapman hit a grounder to short that was misplayed by the UCF shortstop Darnell Sweeney. Two runs scored on the play as the ball went to left field. Designated hitter Eli Hynes drove in two more runs for the U of M with a single down the right field line. The Tigers loaded the bases with one out and Hynes would score the Tigers fifth run of the day on a passed ball by UCF. Ethan Gross then hit a groundout to short, but Adam McClain would score on the play and give Memphis a 6-0 lead.
The Knights scratched across a run in the top of the second on a one-out double by Erik Hempe. Hempe, who advanced to third on a wild pitch, scored on a groundout later in the inning. After UCF decreased the Memphis lead to 6-2 in the top of the third, Hempe hit a double off the wall in centerfield to bring the Knights within two at 6-4.
Memphis scored another run in the third off a RBI single by Robby Graham to take a 7-4 lead. UCF would post a three-run fourth to knot the game at 7-7. After a one-out single by Hicks made the score 7-5, Hempe drove in two more runs with a single through the left side of the infield to tie the game at 7-7.
UCF put runners on first and second with one out in the fifth after back-to-back singles, but Holland worked out of the jam with consecutive strikeouts. Holland allowed seven runs, six earned, on 11 hits in five innings on the mound. He struck out six and walked two.
The Tigers regained the lead in the sixth with a two-out RBI single by Rich. UCF had not allowed a two-out RBI in its last six games, but the U of M came through with its 102nd two-out RBI of the season. Martinez scored on the play after reaching on a single and moving to second on a stolen base.
McClain led the Tigers with a 4-for-5 afternoon at the plate and Rich finished with three hits and three RBI for the U of M.
The Tigers will look to salvage the series on Sunday with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. at FedExPark.