No. 14 UCF Nips Baseball In The Ninth

UABSPORTS.COM OF Jeff Schalk went 3-for-5 with his first career home run.
UABSPORTS.COM
OF Jeff Schalk went 3-for-5 with his first career home run.
UABSPORTS.COM

April 8, 2012

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ORLANDO, Fla. ---- The UAB lineup launched three homers and roped 15 hits, but UCF's JoMarcos Woods lined a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to give No. 14 UCF an 8-7 victory at Bergman Field on Sunday.

UCF captured the last two games of the series to improve to 26-7 and 7-2 in league play.  UAB dropped to 19-14 and 3-6 in conference ball games with the loss.

"Today was a great game to play in, like the Alabama game," head coach Brian Shoop said.  "It's a lot more fun to win, but games like this are great to play in because they make you better."

Five players posted two-or-more hits, led by three-hit efforts from Jeff Schalk and Tyler Mims.  Schalk finished 3-for-5 with a homer, two runs scored and two RBI.  Mims set a career-high with three singles.

UAB launched three homers in the game as Ivan De Jesus and Todd Wilkinson each ripped solo shots to go along with a two-run bomb by Schalk.  The homers by De Jesus, Schalk and Wilkinson were all the firsts of their careers in Green and Gold.  Sunday was also the first game that the Blazers hit three round trippers in a contest since May 22, 2010 when UAB played at Rice.

The Blazers took little time getting its licks in against UCF starter Ray Hanson.  With one down in the first, John Frost worked a walk, which would be followed by four consecutive singles, plating three runs.  Patrick Palmeiro roped a single back up the middle, Mims found a hole through the right side and Ussery lined a hit to right, all for RBI base hits to account for the three-run opening inning.

In the second, UAB expanded the lead, 4-0, when De Jesus tattooed a solo homer to left.

The tides turned in favor of the Knights in the bottom half of the third, when UCF crossed home six times off five hits against UAB right-hander Michael Busby.  Darnell Sweeney had a RBI double and Chris Taladay ripped a two-run single to highlight the inning.

UCF tacked on a run in the fourth on a sac fly from D.J. Hicks in the fourth, stretching the advantage to 7-4.

The Blazers refused to back down, though, as Jeff Schalk sparked a comeback.  The freshman turned on a pitch from reliever Bryan Brown for a two-run bomb to make it a one-run game.

At least one run was scored by either tem through the first five, but both bullpens put zeros in the sixth and seventh.

In the eighth, Todd Wilkinson led off the frame with a deep fly to left to even up the score with the Knights.  UCF lefty Eric Skoglun worked around the homer to keep the game tied.

In the top of the ninth, the play of the game took place, unfortunately benefitting the home team.  With two outs, Tyler Mims laced his third hit of the game to right.  Next up stepped Ryan Ussery who tagged a Joe Rogers (4-0) pitch off the wall in left-centerfield.  Center fielder Ronnie Richardson fielded the ball, threw a strike to shortstop Darnell Sweeney who made a perfect throw to home plate, catching Mims trying to score the go-ahead run on a bang-bang play at the plate.

The momentum quickly changed sides as Alex Friedrich led off the ninth with a double down the left-field line against Ryan Nance (2-2).  Ryan Breen followed with a bloop single to right, setting up Woods for the game-winning hit.

Dylan Munger pitched great out of the UAB bullpen, firing three scoreless innings, surrendering only one hit with two strikeouts.

Next up for UAB is a trip to Tuscaloosa, to play the Alabama Crimson Tide on Tuesday with first pitch slated for 6:05 p.m. CT.