ORLANDO, Fla. — Just like the dramatic endings for UCF in football and men’s basketball against Houston, Sunday was baseball’s turn and it faced a 3-2 deficit entering the bottom of the ninth. Thanks to a bases loaded, walk-off single by James Vasquez, the ninth-ranked Knights posted a 4-3 win against the 19th-ranked Cougars to clinch the opening series in the American Athletic Conference.
The UCF (22-7, 2-1 The American) ninth inning started with a single to right by Kyle Marsh, then Erik Barber was hit by a pitch. Matt Diorio put down a sac bunt, but the throw by the pitcher was wide, allowing for Marsh to tie the game at 3-3.
“The infield was in and I was just looking for a pitch to drive,” Vasquez said. I was looking for a fastball early and wanted to put a good swing on it. That is exactly what I did.”
After Tommy Williams was intentionally walked, Vasquez struck the first offering from Houston (19-9, 1-2 The American) lefty Seth Romero up the middle to secure the victory. It was the third walk-off win for the Knights this season.
“Championship Sunday that is what it was today. What a game. what a series,” said head coach Terry Rooney. “This series showcased two great college baseball teams. I could not be prouder of our players today. The guys hung in there and did a terrific job of executing late. They deserved to win the series.”
Zach Rodgers (4-0) tossed eight innings of relief and struck out five to earn the victory.
Vasquez tallied a three-hit performance while Williams added a pair of base knocks to pace the UCF offense that totaled eight hits.
The Cougars were paced by Campbell, who tallied three hits and scored two runs. Taylor drove in two of the three runs for Houston. Aaron Garza logged 4.2 innings of relief and six strikeouts.