ORLANDO, Fla. — With a record crowd of 4,319 on hand, 18th-ranked UCF captured a 4-3 victory against No. 3 Florida on Tuesday. Derrick Salberg made a diving catch near the warning track in center field for the second out in the ninth inning and Trent Thompson induced a fly out to end the game to set off a raucous celebration.
“It was crazy, especially there at the end with everyone chanting UCF,” said third baseman Tommy Williams, who drove in three runs. “It was nuts. It was awesome.”
It was the Knight’s first top-10 win at home since 2004, when UCF defeated No. 2 LSU 6-5 in 10 innings.
“It was a tremendous team win,” head coach Terry Rooney said. “We talk about it all the time that it takes 35 guys. [Tuesday night], it took every single player on the bench, on the field to get this done. I want to thank everybody that came out. It was a record crowd. I really appreciate all the support of Knight Nation. It was an awesome environment.”
The Knights (11-1) now have victories against Florida, Arkansas and Ole Miss this season. It is the first time since 1987 that UCF has defeated three different SEC teams in the same year (Alabama, Florida, Georgia).
Kyle Marsh tossed four-plus innings, yielding one earned run and fanning two in his first career start. The win was registered by lefty Harrison Hukari, who notched two strikeouts in 2.2 innings and picked up his third victory.
The Knights opened the scoring in the fourth when Dylan Moore was hit by a pitch and took second on a failed pick-off attempt. Erik Barber singled to right center, placing two runners in scoring position.
In the next at bat, a sacrifice fly by Williams put the Knights on top 1-0. James Vasquez increased the lead to 2-0 on a base hit to left.
Florida responded in the fifth with a run of its own on a single, walk and run-producing ground out to cut the Knights advantage to 2-1.
Coming up with a clutch two-run double in the sixth inning, Williams brought the capacity crowd to its feet and extended the Knights lead to 4-1. The frame started with Salberg notching a one-out single and a walk drawn by Barber.
The Gators once again answered the following inning with a two-run double registered by Dalton Guthrie.
UCF turned double plays in the second, fourth and eighth innings as the defense played a crucial role in keeping the Gators’ offense at bay.