USF dropped the first game game of the weekend series against UCF by a score of 2-0 on Friday. The game was a pitchers duel through and through, with both starters lasting at least 8 innings (with Jimmy Herget nearly lasting for a complete game for USF with 8.2 innings pitched) and picked up a combined 17 strikeouts and gave up only five hits each. Eric Skoglund came out victorious for UCF and improved to 5-0 on the year (with an ERA of 1.67).
"I tell you both pitchers did a terrific job. That's Friday night in college baseball right there," said UCF Head Coach Terry Rooney. "Just two outstanding college pitchers."
The Bulls offense was once again not good enough. Of the six hits they managed to get, all six of them were singles and nobody got a multi-hit game. The Bulls were getting no hit through three innings before they got their first single of the game in the fourth. In the fifth USF managed to get the bases loaded with only one out, but balked at the chance by getting a foul out and ground out to end the inning.
The scoring started out in the first inning for the Knights when they picked up an RBI single with two outs. They didn't get on the board again until the ninth inning when they picked up another RBI single. James Vasquez put in the only multi-hit performance of the game, going 2-4 with an RBI and another run scored.
"UCF got hits when they needed it and we didn't," said USF Head Coach Lelo Prado. "Somebody has to step up and get a base hit in a crucial situation."
UCF came into Friday's riding the nation's second-longest winning streak at nine games (now 10). The Knights improved on their already school-best start to league play with the win Friday, they are now 7-0 in The American and in first place.
The Knights also came into the series with three different players leading The American in statistical categories of note. Center-fielder Derrick Salberg led in batting average by hitting an impressive .400 through his first 23 starts (though an 0-3 outing on Friday dropped his average to .376). Shortstop Tommy Williams leads the conference in home-runs with six (UCF leads as a team with 16) and second baseman Dylan Moore leads in hits with 43.
We'll see if either team can pick up their offensive production in the final two games of the series. Last year the Bulls were able to outscore UCF 15-7 in their two meetings. USF is now on a season-high three game losing streak, so they will be looking for a spark to turn that around.
The second game of the series will be tonight at the USF baseball stadium at 6:00 PM. Casey Mulholland (2-0, 2.90 ERA) will get the start for the Bulls and face off against UCF's Tanner Olson (3-1, 3.09 ERA). The third and final game of the series will be at 1:00 PM on Sunday.