June 1, 2012

Around the Regionals

Regional Capsules

Regional Scores & Schedules


Richardson, Knights Squeak Past Bears

By David Furones



CORAL GABLES, Fla. – It took five hours, but No. 2 seed UCF was able to squeak past No. 3 Missouri State 2-1 Friday in the opening game of the Coral Gables Regional.


A two-hour, 14-minute rain delay, which began when the Knights took the field in the ninth looking to record the final three outs, did not deter UCF from finishing off the Bears to advance to face the winner of Miami and Stony Brook in the winners’ bracket.


With usual closer Joe Rogers already burnt after the delay, UCF coach Terry Rooney (pictured) opted to go to reliever and spot starter Chris Matulis in the ninth. Matulis induced a harmless Keenen Maddox ground ball to short to end the game.


Knights leadoff man Ronnie Richardson went 2 for 4 and scored both UCF runs.


“Ronnie Richardson is one of the best players in the country,” Rooney said. “Ronnie Richardson is one of the most clutch players in college baseball, and he rose up. Your best players rise up in the clutch situations, and Ronnie did that.”


Three-hole hitter Chris Taladay drove in Richardson from second to deliver the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth on a flare to right-center. Richardson, who also hit a leadoff homer in the first, doubled to start off the inning.


In the previous half inning, the Bears stranded three runners. Rogers loaded the bases with no outs, but a groundout with the infield in, a popout to short and a fielder’s choice got Rogers out of the Missouri State threat.


If you ask the Knights, getting out of that jam propelled the offense with the momentum to provide the decisive strike in the bottom of the frame.


“That really gets us going,” Taladay said. “We always live for that momentum, and everything gets you going at that point where you have to get that win. That was huge.”


Added Rooney: “That inning has the potential to go down as one of the greatest innings in the history of UCF baseball. For Joe Rogers to work out of that was incredible, and then to come back and get the go-ahead run…that had everything you want in college baseball.”


Before the long delay, the storyline of the game was the pitchers’ duel developing between Missouri State’s Nick Petree (left) and UCF’s Ben Lively.


Petree, who with a 10-3 record and a miniscule 0.92 ERA was named Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger Division I National Player of the Year Thursday, was stellar on the hill for the Bears, but it wasn’t enough to outlast the Knights’ bullpen.


Petree pitched an eight-inning complete game giving up just two earned runs for the loss.


“[Petree] threw great,” said Missouri State designated hitter Luke Voit, who usually catches for the Bears but was inserted at DH due to injury. “He threw well. We just didn’t score enough runs behind him.”


Lively earned a no-decision, pitching 5.2 scoreless innings with three hits, six strikeouts and four walks.


Lively, while effective, did have to labor, and made his exit after tossing 113 pitches in the sixth. He said he was dealing with leg cramps going into his final inning of work.


Lively was pulled for Roman Madrid in the sixth. Although Madrid was able to get through that inning, he gave up the tying run in the seventh when Bears leadoff man Kevin Medrano drove home pinch-hitter Dylan Becker, who hit a one-out double to left.


The inning then ended when Medrano ran through a stop sign trying to score from second on a base hit, but right fielder Alex Friedrich threw him out at the plate.


The Knights got the scoring going right away. Richardson belted his ninth home run, and fourth leadoff homer, of the year. The blast past the left field scoreboard marked the first home run hit off Petree all season.

Game Notes

·        Missouri State had the bases loaded and two out in the top of the first but came out without a run due to a wacky play. First baseman Brock Chaffin checked his swing on a 1-2 pitch that was called a ball. Assuming it was a dropped strike three, runners took off, and lead runner Spiker Helms was tagged out between third and home.

·        UCF had a big missed opportunity in the fourth. After getting the first two hitters on, a failed sacrifice bunt attempt and a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play ended the threat.

·        Lively showed signs of fatigue early in the sixth before he was ultimately pulled. UCF coach Terry Rooney and his trainer met with Lively on the mound and gave him a drink before leaving him in to face the next two Bears batters.

·        Missouri State loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth, but came out of it without a run. Usual UCF closer Joe Rogers retired the bottom of the order to get out of the jam. First, he induced a grounder to second with the infield in to get a force at second. He then got Eric Cheray to pop out to short, and got Joey Hawkins to ground into a 4-6 fielder’s choice. UCF shortstop Darnell Sweeney spiked the ball after receiving the feed from Travis Shreve on the play, and that got the team pumped up for the bottom of the eighth.

·        Missouri State left 12 men on base Friday. 


(photos courtesy of UCF & MSU Media Relations Office)