Stetson held a 10-0 lead through the top of the fourth, yet it did not stop UCF from stunning the Hatters (17-23) in a memorable 13-12 come-from-behind win Tuesday in Orlando. Senior Kiko Vazquez delivered the final blow by capping a five-run eighth with a two-out, two-run homer for the Knights (13-25). It was the first time since the 2003 season the Black and Gold erased a deficit of eight runs or more.
"It was just a fastball up, and I thought (Nick Bohne) was going to throw me an off-speed pitch but I saw something up and just hammered it," said Vazquez. "It is probably one of the biggest homers for me, I don't think I've had a game-tying or game-winning home runs. But we needed to stop their momentum in the fourth after they scored nine runs, and I brought everyone to the mound and I said ‘listen, carry yourselves with confidence and we're going to win this game.'"
The game-winning dinger gave Vazquez a career-high 10 for the 2009 campaign, and also moved him into a tie for sixth on the UCF all-time list with Dee Brown with 26 collegiate home runs. Vazquez completed his evening 2-for-2 with three RBI, three runs and two walks.
After trailing 10-0, UCF scored four in the fourth, three in the sixth, one in the seventh and five in the eighth. The combination of relievers Evan Stobbs, D.J. Hicks and Cory Weech allowed the Knights' bats to do their work, pitching the final 5.0 innings and allowing only one earned run on two hits. Hicks picked up the win by tossing perfect sixth, seventh and eighth frames, while Weech secured his first UCF save in the ninth.
UCF's third-longest hitting streak in school history came to an end vs. the Hatters, as senior Colin Arnold witnessed his 20-game streak wrap up. It also was tied for the second-longest in Conference USA this year, trailing teammate Shane Brown who had a hit in 22-straight outings earlier this season.
An unearned run sparked Stetson to a 1-0 lead in the first inning against UCF starter Bryan Brown. The Hatters wanted to stretch their advantage even further in the third but ran into the arm of freshman catcher Beau Taylor. After Mark Jones struck out, Sean Emory singled to center only to be thrown out trying to steal second. Jeff Simpson followed with a walk and he too was eliminated attempted to swipe a base.
While it did not get on the board in the third, Stetson rebounded in a huge way in the fourth when the Knights went to their bullpen. The first four batters recorded a base hit en route to a nine-run inning that put the visitors ahead 10-0.
UCF may have fallen behind, but it started clawing back in the home half. Without the benefit of a base hit, the Knights loaded the bases with one down vs. starter David Burns. That was when the Hatters went to the pen as well, where Tucker Donahue gave up a first pitch RBI single to Vazquez. Junior Chris Duffy came through with a two-run base hit, and Vazquez scored the fourth run of the frame when Donahue threw the ball away trying to pick off Duffy from first.
The Hatters replied with another unearned run in the fifth to push it to 11-4, yet Hicks drove in one on a RBI groundout with the bases juiced when the sixth inning rolled around. With the score sitting at 11-5 and the game still in the bottom of the sixth, freshman Jake Huxtable brought in a pair with two down thanks to a single between second and third.
UCF eventually brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the seventh after scoring once on a sac fly from senior Brandon Romans. Now trailing by just three runs, the Knights had one runner at third with one away as well as the bags filled with two down only to not push any more runs across.
However, the offense returned in the bottom of the eighth and this time the rally caps worked. Bohne took over on the mound and immediately saw Huxtable send a double down the left-field line. Even though Arnold flied out, senior Josh Siebenaler drew a 3-2 walk and both scored when Shane Brown ripped a double to the right-center gap. UCF quickly evened it up at 11-11 as Romans cranked a single up the middle.
Now with the game tied, the Knights craved more. With Brown at first and two down, Vazquez wasted little time making the entire UCF dugout and Knight faithful in the stands celebrate, launching the first pitch from Bohne deep over the left-field wall.
While Casey Frawley did kick off the ninth with a solo blast to enable the Hatters to inch closer at 13-12, Weech strolled in from the pen and shut the door for the incredible UCF win.
Four more weekends now remain until the end of the regular season, with UCF kicking off its second half of the Conference USA campaign at UAB starting Friday at 8 p.m. ET.
Miraculous Comeback for UCF Over Stetson
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