DeLAND, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - In a thrilling extra-innings affair, the No. 13 UCF baseball earned its 11th-straight victory over in-state rival Stetson after Ronnie Richardson smashed a solo home run in the 13th inning for a 5-4 triumph.
The Knights (36-10) are now 13-2 on the road, including 5-1 while traveling in the state of Florida this season.
"A great team win. I think that signifies it," UCF head coach Terry Rooney said after the four-plus hour contest. "Guys were picking each other up all night. It was just a tremendous team win."
UCF totaled 10 hits in the ballgame, none bigger than Richardson's lone base knock over the left-field fence. Senior Travis Shreve and rookie James Vasquez each netted two hits to aid in the victory.
Senior Bryan Brown improved his record to 2-0 this year after pitching three strong innings to close out the game. Starter Ray Hanson pitched effectively once again in his first midweek start since FAU on March 27 by going 6 1/3 frames and allowing three runs on six hits while tying a career high with five strikeouts.
UCF will return home with a non-conference series against Presbyterian beginning Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. and continuing Sunday at 4 p.m. and Monday at noon.
After Stetson plated a run in the bottom of the first, UCF responded in the top of the second with a run of its own to knot up the game. Alex Friedrich laced a single into center moved up to third after Ryan Breen reached on an error. Vasquez, starting in his first game since April 10, notched a RBI single to the shortstop to score Friedrich.
With Hanson and Stetson starter Josh Powers locked in a duel, UCF was finally able to get through in the top of the sixth after Darnell Sweeney hit a double to right-center field and stole his 15th base of the year. Hicks, looking for his first RBI in four games, notched No. 57 on a flare into right-center to score his teammate and give the Knights a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the seventh, UCF tacked on one more run on two hits after making the Hatters pay for a leadoff walk to Breen. Vasquez notched his second hit of the night and Shreve brought in Breen with a single through the right side.
Stetson wouldn't go away quietly though, scoring a pair of runs on a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh off Roman Madrid who relieved Hanson with one away in the inning.
One of the rarer feats in baseball occurred in the bottom of the ninth as Joe Rogers notched four strikeouts while leaving runners on the corners to take the game to extra innings.
The rejuvenated Knights took their second lead in the top of the 10th as Shreve led off the inning with his 13th double of 2012 down the right-field line. He was sacrificed over to third by Ronnie Richardson and Sweeney sent a high fly ball to right that scored a sliding Shreve who reached his left hand around the catcher's leg to make it in safe.
The Hatters once again fought back in the bottom-half of the inning with a two-out RBI single off Rogers to tie up the game at 4-4.
It wasn't until the 13th inning that the Knights broke through once and for all. Richardson led off the inning with his sixth home run of the season as he smashed a 2-2 pitch over the left-field wall into the wind. Brown set down the Hatters in order to complete the four hour and 34-minute game.
News & Notes:
-The Knights have now won 11-staight in the series and own a 70-48 all-time lead
-UCF is 3-1 in extra innings games in 2012
-It was UCF's 19th one-run game this year
-Overall, the team has hit 31 homers in 2012
-UCF and Stetson will finish their series May 15 at the UCF baseball complex
-Rogers and Brown made their 71st-career appearances in a UCF uniform