Clutch Hits Lift UCF Baseball Past Monmouth

The UCF baseball team picked up key hits from throughout its lineup in an 8-6 win over Monmouth Friday at Jay Bergman Field. Senior Brandon Romans drove in three for the Knights (3-6), including two on a home run in the second, while sophomore Evan Stobbs also pounded out an important dinger late in the victory.

"Every single day these guys are giving 100 percent effort," said head coach Terry Rooney. "I am proud of what they are doing. When you continue to play a game a certain way, positive results will happen. That is what happened today. Today was a total team effort. I challenged these guys and they have challenged each other about taking ownership and responsibility. When we get an opportunity to pitch or hit in the clutch, then we need to get the job done. And those guys did that."

Romans, Stobbs and senior Kiko Vazquez all came through with two hits and scored at least one run vs. Monmouth (0-4). Romans' three RBI matched a personal-best, as the Knights left only five runners on base compared to the Hawks' 17. Possibly the biggest blow, though, came from junior Chris Duffy, who enabled UCF to grab the lead for good on a RBI Double in the seventh.

Freshman D.J. Hicks (1-1) picked up his first collegiate win in relief, with senior closer Justin Weiss earning a two-inning save, the 17th save of his career.

A line drive that just got over the head of Duffy in left helped Monmouth strike right away in the top of the first. Brett Holland led off with the double and immediately scored when Ryan Terry singled off UCF starter Kyle Sweat. Terry then came around on a two-out base hit from Chris Collazo.

Already holding a 2-0 lead, the Hawks took advantage of a fielding error in the second inning en route to adding two more runs. Even though the deficit was 4-0, UCF's bats awoke in the home half. Following a leadoff double off the center-field wall by Vazquez, Romans fell behind to lefty Kyle Breese 0-2. After a ball outside, catcher Bobby Dombrowski set up inside only Breese left a fastball over the heart of the plate. Romans made him pay, hammering his career-high third homer of the season over the fence in right.

The inning was far from over. Three separate Monmouth errors proved costly when the Knights were able to tie it up at 4-4, capped off on a two-out RBI single off the bat of freshman Jake Huxtable.

However for the third-straight inning the Hawks scored a run, making it 5-4 thanks to a two-out single by Dombrowski that drilled Sweat and dribbled far enough away. Sweat remained in the game to get the third out, leaving runners at the corners.

Both teams cooled down at the plate until the bottom of the sixth, where the Knights captured their first lead. Kicked off by a fielding error with Duffy at the dish, Romans returned two batters later and found the left-center gap to drive in the left fielder. On the very next pitch, Stobbs came through by dropping a RBI single into right.

The Hawks did even it back up in the seventh on a two-out infield single, only to witness UCF take it right back in the bottom half. With one down and runners at first and second, Duffy crushed a 2-2 offering from Tim Ballard to deep center, allowing senior Nick Choto to come around and touch home.

After Monmouth could not capitalize on two UCF fielding errors in the eighth, Stobbs made sure UCF would hang on, sending his first homer of 2009 out to left-center for the final 8-6 margin. Weiss tossed the final two innings, but it did not come easy in the ninth. The Hawks loaded the bases with two down on a walk and a pair of slow infield singles. Weiss finally notched the final out by inducing Chris Collazo to ground out to second.

UCF and Monmouth gets back to work with game two Saturday at 4 p.m.


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