NEW ORLEANS, La. (UCFAthletics.com) - Pitchers Ben Lively, Roman Madrid and Joe Rogers aided the No. 10 UCF baseball team in a 1-0 shutout of Tulane Friday night in the series opener at Turchin Stadium. Jeramy Matos' solo home run in the seventh inning gave the Knights their Conference USA-leading 10th win and improved their overall record to 32-8.
The league's top pitching staff (2.74 ERA) dazzled once again and is now 29-0 this year when holding a lead from the seventh inning on. Combined with the stellar pitching was UCF's stifling defense that turned four double-plays and left 10 Green Wave (26-12, 5-5)runners on base.
"We talk about it all the time, that's Friday night in Conference USA," UCF head coach Terry Rooney said. "It was a great effort. Both teams battled their hearts out. The difference was Matos' home run and our pitchers did a great job of pitching in the clutch."
In the victory, Lively notched his team-leading sixth win and has only allowed one run in his last 18 2/3 innings while striking out 19 batters. Madrid lowered his miniscule ERA down to 0.31 with 1 2/3 innings of two-hit work and Rogers notched his eighth save of the year, and 25th of his career, with another shutdown ninth inning.
The two teams will resume the series Saturday afternoon with Chris Matulis getting the nod in the 3 p.m. EDT start time.
Out of the gates, Lively ran into trouble, giving up back-to-back singles and hitting a batter to open the game. The Gulf Breeze native dug in and induced a fly ball to shallow right field which Alex Friedrich snagged and fired a laser home to hose Brandon Boudreaux tagging from third. It was the fifth outfield-assist for the former walk-on in 2012. Lively escaped the frame unscathed as he was able to catch Sean Potkay looking on strike three.
With Lively in a groove, UCF's lone run of the game came with two outs in the top of the seventh as Matos broke the Knights' 21-inning scoreless streak on Friday nights when he absolutely crushed a first-pitch fastball well over the left-center wall to give the Knights the lead for good. The junior walk-on has now driven in five runs with each one courtesy of the long ball.
With the lead intact, Madrid relieved Lively with one away and one on in the bottom of the seventh and got out of the frame with a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play. He returned in the eighth and showed once again why he is one of the best relievers in the nation by stranding a runner at third with two outs.
Rogers closed the door on the Green Wave in the ninth thanks in large part to a stellar 4-6-3 (Travis Shreve, Darnell Sweeney, D.J. Hicks) double play with first baseman Hicks keeping his foot on the bag while stretch well past it to record the third out.
News & Notes:
-It was the first shutout for UCF since UAB on May 14, 2011
-UCF has limited opponents to just one run over the last 23 innings on Friday nights
-Ronnie Richardson led the Knights with a 3-for-5 effort at the plate
-Friedrich extended his hitting streak to nine games
-The Knights are now 10-2 on the road this year
-UCF has won three of its last four at Tulane
-As a team, UCF has now scored 52 runs in the seventh inning, the most out of any frame