After dropping two of three games at home to the Bulls a few weeks ago, the Knights were looking to get a bit of payback, this time on the Bulls’ home turf.
Let’s take a look at each game to see how the Knights won their final regular season War on I-4 series:
Game 1: Edging Them Out
The first game of the series was a pretty even one, with UCF managing to get a 6-4 victory.
The Knights initially took a two-run lead before the Bulls scored three runs in the bottom of the 3rd. However, the Knights would respond the very next inning, scoring three straight runs to retake the lead. The two teams would go on to score one more run, both in the 6th inning, but that three-run inns ended up clinching the game for them.
Ruddy Gomez got the start for the Knights, earning his sixth win of the season. He tossed six innings, giving up four runs and five hits, while also striking out four batters.
Leading the way for the offense was designated hitter Andrew Sundean. Sundean went three-for-four at the plate with three RBI, including a home run in the 6th. The other notable hitting performance of the day came from First Basemen Nick Romano, who went two-for-three with a solo home run he hit in the 4th, which ignited the Knights’ three-run inning.
Overall, this game was defined by the Knights managing to do a bit more. The Bulls had five hits, they had six. The Bulls had a three-run inning, but the Knights followed it up with one of their own. The USF bullpen gave up two hits; the Knights’ bullpen gave up none.
Game 2: Unable to Catch Up
The second game of the series was a high-scoring 14-8 Knights loss. The Bulls’ hitting got hot way earlier than the Knights, which allowed them to always stay ahead on the scoreboard.
The Bulls scored five straight runs, one in the 1st and four in the 2nd, to start the game. The Knights would manage to start putting up runs in the third, but they could never even things up due to the Bulls’ offense not cooling down.
Almost every time the Knights had a big inning, the Bulls would follow it up with an even bigger inning. The Knights score two runs in the top of the 3rd, the Bulls score three in the bottom of the 3rd. the Knights score one run in the top of the 7th, the Bulls score five in the bottom of the 7th. The Bulls’ offense made the Knights’ big innings feel like nothing.
Ben Vespi got the start for the Knights. He pitched for three innings, giving up six hits and seven runs. With the loss, he is now one-and-two on the year. The Knights would use four other pitchers in the game, who gave up a total of six hits and seven runs.
The Knights’ hitting was pretty solid in the game, with the team coming for a total of 1o hits, but the pitching struggles combined with the team committing eight errors made this game impossible for the Knights to win.
Game 3: A Dominating Finish
The final game of the series, as well as the final AAC regular season game between the two teams, was not even close. The Knights’ great performances on both offense and defense resulted in an 11-1 victory.
The game was even early on, with both teams tied at one at the start of the 4th. However, a couple of big innings for the Knights, which included scoring five runs in the 7th, saw the game go from close to a blowout.
The pitching completely made up for the previous game. After giving up 14 runs and 12 hits, the staff combined for only one run and three hits.
Cameron Leiter started the game for the Knights. He gave up two hits and one run, as well as five strikeouts, in the four innings he was on the mound. The Knights’ other two pitchers from the game were Najer Victor, who was given the victory and is now three-and-one on the season, and Jacob Marlowe. Both pitchers also had solid performances, combing for a one-hit, zero-run performance.
The Knights’ bats were hot in this game. The team recorded a total of 12 hits, two of which were home runs, in the game The most notable performances in the game came from Andrew Sundean, who went two-for-four with two RBIs, Nick Romano, who two-for-three with two hits, Andrew Brait, who went two-forgive with one RBI, John Rhys Plumlee, who went one-for-four with three RBIs, and Drew Faurot, who went four-for-four with four RBIs.
Undoubtedly, this was the Knights’ best performance in the whole series and it was one heck of a way to finish off the War on I-4 this season.
This series brings the Knights’ overall record to 23-17 and conference record to 5-7, which put them tied at 5th in the AAC, but just three games back of a tie for first. The team will be back in action next Friday, when they will start a three-game series against the Houston Cougars.
Player of the Series
Sundean went 5/13 and recorded five RBI.