UCF Falls on VCU's Ninth-Inning Heroics, 10-9

A two-run homer with two outs in the ninth by Carlos Rodriguez gave Virginia Commonwealth a 10-9 win over the UCF baseball team Saturday. The Knights fell to 1-1 on the season even though senior Kiko Vazquez crushed a pair of home runs in the contest.

The Rams (1-1) scored three in the top of the ninth to pick up the win in a game that featured four lead changes and a combined 27 hits.

Vazquez belted two dingers in a game for the third time in his career, giving him 18 homers in four seasons with the Knights.

"Midnight we flip the switch so tomorrow we will come out with the same intensity and the same focus," said Vazquez. "We're going to plan to come out and win."

Although Friday's game featured very little offense in the first three innings, Saturday's contest was completely different in the top of the first. VCU's Andrew Dimino greeted junior Austin Hudson with a single up the middle to leadoff the game, then Doug Otto was beaned. R.J. Schenk followed suit with a base hit of his own to load the bases and put the pressure on the right-handed hurler. Although things could have really gotten out of control, Hudson settled down. Michael Cheatham's 4-6-3 double-play ball did score one, but that was all the Rams could muster as Justin Wright grounded out to end the frame.

Trailing for the first time this year, Vazquez erased UCF's deficit with one swing of the bat in the second, sending a 1-1 offering from Phillip Deane over the left-field fence for his first homer of 2009.

Not satisfied with a tie, the Knights' offense continued rolling in the second. With two aboard on a Brandon Romans single and walk to D.J. Hicks, senior Eric Kallstrom dropped a double down the left-field line to give UCF the lead. Senior Nick Choto drove in a run as well on a grounder to second, and freshman Austin Smith came through with his first hit and RBI by plating Kallstrom on a single to left.

Holding a 4-1 advantage, VCU came right back in the third with one more run, only to see Vazquez do it again in the home half. With Duffy on first thanks to a hard single to center, UCF's first baseman sent yet another 1-1 pitch deep to left for his second dinger in as many innings.

Those two runs were answered immediately in the top of the fourth, where VCU collected RBI hits from Richard Gonzalez and Dimino. When sophomore Brennan Dobbins took the hill in the fifth, Gonzalez again drove in a run to help the Rams inch closer at 6-5. And the comeback was complete in the sixth as the first three hitters notched singles to hand VCU its second lead of the game at 7-6.

As reliever Aaron Morgan was mowing down the Knights, UCF finally threatened again in the seventh, and it all started with a leadoff walk to Smith. Eventually it would fill the bases with one down on singles from Arnold and junior Chris Duffy, and Morgan permitted the Knights to tie it back up by plunking Vazquez. Still with the bases loaded, freshman Jake Huxtable sent a grounder to short that Otto had a hard time handling before throwing it into right field. Both Arnold and Duffy came across on the play, returning the lead to UCF, 9-7.

Closer Justin Weiss took over in the eighth and proceeded to retire the side on six pitches. But in the ninth VCU scored one before Rodriguez belted a two-out, 0-2 pitch over the left-center fence for a two-run homer, handing the Rams the final 10-9 victory.

Game three of the four-game series gets underway Sunday at 1 p.m., with the series finale scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m.


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