May 14, 2011
UCF vs. UAB
May 14, 2011
|From Birmingham, Ala.
WP: Cicio (2-2), 3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
LP: Nance (2-5), 1.0 IP, 6 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
Still tied at 0-0 in the 10th inning, UCF loaded the bases with one out against UAB closer Ryan Nance. With the infield in and a 1-1 count, Ronnie Richardson lined a two-run single into center. That would be all the Knights needed for the victory, but just for good measure, they added seven more runs to shutout the Blazers.
First: UCF RF Erik Hempe, 3-for-5, GS in the 10th
Second: UCF Pitchers, Danny Winkler and Nick Cicio combine for 10 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 8 K
Third: UCF CF Ronnie Richardson, 2-for-5, GW 2-run single in the 10th
By Brian Ormiston
Box Score in PDF Format
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UCFAthletics.com) - Knotted up at 0-0 in the 10th inning, UCF exploded for nine runs capped off by a grand slam from Erik Hempe to post a 9-0 shutout at UAB Saturday. It was the biggest inning of the year for the Knights (32-19, 9-11 Conference USA), who will now go for the sweep of the Blazers (27-24, 9-14) Sunday.
"It was a fantastic team win," said head coach Terry Rooney. "Danny Winkler and Nick Cicio were unbelievable by putting up zeroes the entire way. And our team battled all day long against an outstanding pitcher from UAB in Ryan Woolley. At the end of the day, it was a great college baseball game. Our guys hung in there because of their poise and confidence to get that big number late."
The nine-run 10th was certainly unexpected, especially after both starting pitchers were lights out in game two of the series.
Opening the year as UCF's top pitcher, Winkler was moved to the bullpen in early April but worked his way back into the weekend rotation April 24. On Saturday, the righty went at least 6.0 innings in his fourth-straight start, tossing 6.1 frames with six strikeouts and five hits against. When he left in the seventh, Cicio (2-2) picked up where Winkler left off. The senior lefty got the win by pitching the final 3.2 innings, striking out two and holding UAB to two hits the rest of the way.
"I knew going in that it would be a pitching battle and I would have to have my best stuff. I got out of a couple of jams, let the defense work and the wind blowing in helped as well," said Winkler. "Lately I've just been simplifying the game. My breaking ball is now working, and I'm going out there with a lot of confidence."
Winkler's opponent on the mound, Woolley, was just as sharp. One of C-USA's top arms, the righty gave up a leadoff single in the first and would not allow a base hit again until the top of the eighth inning. He completed his outing with 9.0 innings, striking out only one but limiting the Knights to four hits.
When Woolley was pulled after the ninth inning, UCF jumped on closer Ryan Nance, with Ronnie Richardson delivering the first blow with a two-run, bases-loaded single to center. D.J. Hicks made it 4-0 with a two-run single as well and following a RBI walk issued to Derek Luciano, Hempe sewed it up with his salami to left. In all, every Knight scored a run in the 10th inning.
Backing up Winkler and Cicio, the UCF defense posted its sixth-straight game where it did not have an error, and has a streak of 60.2-consecutive errorless innings dating back to the second inning at South Florida May 3.
When game two got underway beneath cloudy skies, Richardson greeted Woolley with a leadoff single in the first and reached second on a sacrifice bunt from Beau Taylor. UCF's center fielder, though, would be stranded to keep the game scoreless. In the bottom of the first, UAB also left a runner in scoring position as Winkler struck out Patrick Palmeiro with a man at third and two outs.
The strikeout on Palmeiro started a string of nine-straight Blazers retired by Winkler until he gave up a two-out double to Palmeiro in the fourth. Eventually with runners at first and third, Andrew Manning fell victim to Winkler by striking out to end the threat.
While Winkler was mowing down UAB through five innings, the Blazers put together a scoring chance in the sixth and it started up with a leadoff walk to Nick Crawford. Following an infield single by Coy Arrowood and a fly out to put runners at the corners with one away, Palmeiro flew out to shallow right and Harry Clark swung threw a 3-2 pitch and the score remained 0-0.
When UAB returned to the plate in the seventh, it again had two aboard with one out, and UCF decided to go to the pen for Cicio. Facing Blazers at first and second, the southpaw struck out Ivan De Jesus, however surrendered an infield single to Crawford to fill the bags. With the game's first run just 90 feet away and two down, Arrowood sent a fly ball in foul territory that right fielder Hempe raced over to snag before hitting the fence.
After his on-the-run grab to end the seventh, Hempe posted UCF's second hit of the game to start the eighth, and Ryan Breen dumped a single to left as the Knights quickly had two on base with no outs. That did not affect Woolley, who picked up three easy outs to get out of the jam.
As Woolley and Cicio both dominated the ninth inning, the Blazers finally went to their bullpen for Nance in the 10th, and Hempe took advantage of the pitching change by doubling to left. Breen hoped to sacrifice him over to third only he got plunked on the arm. Travis Shreve then showed bunt, pulled back and chopped on infield single to short to load the bases with no outs.
In the biggest moment of the afternoon, Nance got the first out, yet witnessed Richardson line a two-run single into center with the infield in to light up the scoreboard for the first time.
And the Knights were far from done in the 10th inning. UCF would reload the bases on a single by Taylor, and Hicks snuck a single under the glove of a diving John Frost at first to make it 4-0. Walks to Jonathan Griffin and Luciano pushed the lead to 5-0, and that set the stage for Hempe, who launched a 3-1 pitch deep to left in his second at-bat of the inning. As it sailed over the wall, the entire UCF dugout erupted onto the field to greet Hempe after he rounded the bases for his fourth round-tripper of the year.
With Cicio retiring eight-straight Blazers from the seventh into the 10th frame, UCF had no trouble preserving the shutout.
The two programs will wrap up the series Sunday at 12 p.m. ET.
UCF - 32-19 Overall, 9-11 C-USA
UAB - 27-24 Overall, 9-14 C-USA
-It was UCF's fifth shutout this year, which are the most since 2006 when the Knights had seven.
-Meanwhile, it also was the Knights' first shutout in C-USA play since a 5-0 victory at No. 2 Rice May 8, 2009.
-D.J. Hicks extended his hitting streak in C-USA games to nine.
-Even though Danny Winkler lasted at least 6.0 innings in his fourth-consecutive start, he did not earn a victory in any of those starts.
-Saturday marked the first time since Feb. 17, 2006, that UCF went to extra innings in a scoreless game.
-Erik Hempe's grand slam was UCF's fourth of the year.