TAMPA — USF starter Ryan Valdes and UCF starter Cre Finfrock locked themselves in a pitchers duel before turning the game over to their respective bullpens. Both left the game the way it started, in a tie game, at 2-2.
That turned out to be the difference on the game with the Knights surrendering five runs over the final three frames and the Bulls holding a powerful UCF offense to just one run, and USF evening the series with 7-3 win.
Both right-handers battled throughout the day. UCF (31-24) (10-13) jumped out front first with a run in the fourth on a Kyle Marsh double to score Matt Diorio. Marsh ended the day with three RBI and four of the Knights seven hits on the day.
The Bulls answered with a run of their own the fifth when Kyle Teaf doubled to score Zac Gilcrease who had singled earlier in the inning. The teams traded runs in the sixth and the game was tied 2-2.
Valdes worked six innings , giving up two runs on five hits . He walked four and struck out four, throwing 109 pitches.
“He didn’t have his best stuff, he struggled throwing strikes at times, but he competed and gave us a chance to win,” said USF assistant coach Mike Current of Valdes’ outing.
Michael Farley worked one inning and picked up the win.
Finfrock had similar numbers to Valdes for UCF, scattering six hits and surrendering two runs over six innings. He walked four and struck our five tossing 118 pitches.
USF broke the game open in the seventh with five runs on six hits off Knights reliever Harrison Hukari who took the loss for UCF.
From that point Bulls closer Tommy Peterson powered his way through the final two innings with five strikeouts, giving up one run on two hits.
I can’t say enough about both starters today, Valdes and Finfrock, giving their teams a chance to win before leaving the game.
Both struggled with command at times, but made big pitches when needed in blistering 92 degree heat.
Both pitchers received a no decision officially.
Besides Kyle Marsh’s 4 of 4 day Jordan Savinon had two hits for UCF. The Knights hitters take some of the most aggressive swings of any team I’ve seen this year.
Every Bulls player in the lineup recorded a hit today, led by Kevin Merrell who had three, and Luke Maglich and Kyle Teaf who had two each.
USF (31-22 -1), (12-11) is currently ranked #30 in RPI. A win tomorrow would insure the team finishes in the top 32 for the regular season.
The rubber game of the three-game set begins at 1 p.m. Saturday with sophomore Robby Howell likely taking on Casey Mulholland.