April 20, 2013
Box Score (PDF)
ORLANDO, Fla. -- UCF scored three runs with two out in the fifth inning to overcome Marshall’s early lead and defeat the Thundering Herd 3-1 in game two of the Conference USA series at Jay Bergman Field.
The loss for Marshall (14-23, 4-7 C-USA) evened the series at a game apiece and means Sunday’s 12:30 p.m. finale will decide the series.
In a taut pitcher’s duel between former Cape Cod League teammates Aaron Blair and Ben Lively, Marshall struck first with a run in the fourth. Sophomore transfer Mardu Smith had the RBI on a safety squeeze that scored Andrew Dundon. Dundon, who singled earlier in the inning, set up the squeeze play by going first to third on a hit-and-run from Nathan Gomez.
UCF (21-19, 7-7 C-USA) answered an inning later when a leadoff walk came around to score on a two-out, 3-2 homer from right fielder Erik Hempe. It was the first home run conceded by Blair this season and gave UCF the lead for good.
The Knights added one more run in the fifth via a single, walk, and RBI-double by designated hitter Jeramy Matos.
Blair (5-3) turned in his seventh straight quality start but came away the losing pitcher. The junior allowed six hits and four walks while striking out eight. Outside the fifth inning, Blair allowed only three hits. All three of his runs were earned.
UCF starter Ben Lively (6-3) was the winning pitcher. The right-hander went 7.2 innings, allowing seven hits, one (earned) run, and no walks, while striking out nine.
Relief pitcher Spencer Davis picked up his fourth save in an eighth-inning relief role. The righty retired all four Marshall hitters he faced.
After UCF took the lead in the fifth, Marshall looked to tie in the sixth by putting the first two on and ultimately getting runners to second and third with one out. After Smith struck out, Eric Escobedo lined a shot toward right field that was speared by the leaping first baseman James Vasquez to end the frame.
Dundon and Gomez were each 2-for-4 in the loss. Other base hits for MU came from Smith, Alfredo Brito, and Sergio Leon.
Herd senior Isaac Ballou went 0-for-4 and snapped his 28 straight games of reaching base along with his 13 straight games of hitting safely. The 28-game reached-base streak was one shy of his career long while the hitting streak was the longest of his time at Marshall.
UCF was held to six hits, four of which came from Hempe (2-for-3) and Matos (2-for-4).
Sunday’s first pitch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.