ORLANDO, Fla. — Central Florida was too much for the Winthrop Eagles baseball team as the Knights outslugged the Eagles 12-7 at windy Jay Bergman Field on Saturday night.
In the second game of a three-game series in Orlando, the Eagles fell to UCF, dropping Winthrop to 3-7 while the Knights improved to 6-4.
Winthrop fell behind 3-0 early but battled back in the fourth. In the fifth, TJ Olesczuk slapped a single through the left side, scoring Cody Dolan from third. Clay Altman scored on a passed ball to give the Eagles a 4-3 lead.
The Knights answered by scoring nine unanswered runs highlighted by a pair of home runs by Jeramy Matos and James Vasquez.
The Eagles look to rebound against the Knights on Sunday.
The Knights got on the board early when Chris Taladay singled, driving in JoMarcos Woods to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
UCF added to its lead in the third when Austin Johnston shot a two-run double down the left field line scoring Taladay and Erik Hempe.
However, the pivotal fifth inning was won by UCF as the Knights pounded out five runs that included a three-run blast by Matos to take a 8-4 lead.
The Knights tacked on another run in the seventh on a RBI single by Hempe, but the dagger came in the eighth when Vasquez blasted a 3-2 pitch over the right-field fence off freshman reliever Ryan Owens for a two-run home run to give UCF a 12-4 lead.
Winthrop scored three runs in the ninth but came up short.
“We played really well for five innings, but it’s a nine-inning ball game,” said Winthrop coach Tom Riginos. “We are not playing bad, but we are not playing good enough.”
Klitsch (0-2) took the loss for the Eagles as he went four innings, giving up five runs on seven hits and striking out two. Knight reliever Chris Matulis (1-0) collected the win with three scoreless innings and six strikeouts.
Olesczuk went 3-for-4 with an RBI, raising his season average to .296.
Winthrop and UCF take the field Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. in the final game of the series. Right-handers Joey Strain (0-1) and Tyler Martin (0-0) are scheduled to get the starts on the mound.
WP: Matulis (1-0), LP: Klitsch (0-2).
Leading hitters: Winthrop: Altman (1-3, 2 RBI), Olesczuk (3-4, RBI). UCF: Hempe (2-4, RBI), Woods (2-5), Taladay (2-3, RBI), Johnston (2-4, 3 RBI), Vasquez (2-4, 2 RBI), Matos (1-4, 3 RBI).