Game Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Central Florida struck early and fast to start its series against the University of Connecticut. In the series-opener, the Knights (28-11, 6-4 in American Athletic Conference) downed the Huskies (21-15, 6-4 in AAC) 8-1 at Jay Bergman Field.

Starting pitcher Robby Howell (6-0) got the win on the mound, pitching his second-career complete game with a two walks and a season-high 11 strikeouts, allowing four hits and one earned run. UConn starter Tim Cate (3-3) got the loss, allowing 11 hits, eight runs (seven earned) and a walk with six strikeouts in 3.1 innings.

“Robby threw unbelievably well, from the second hitter on,” UCF head coach Greg Lovelady said after the game. “Really proud of him ‘cus we challenged him all week. He hadn’t pitched well the last two weeks. Walked too many guys, and here we go again. First batter, and we go four-pitch walk. Really proud of him, mentally, just flushing it, not worrying about it, not saying, ‘Oh, here we go again,’ and stopping it, and saying, ‘I’m not doing this again.'”

Entering the bottom of the fourth, the Knights already led 4-0. That’s when UCF put the game out of reach for UConn with two two-run homers.

Outfielder Luke Hamblin began the effort with base hit to center field. Fellow outfielder Eli Putnam then smashed his fifth home run of the season over the left-field wall for a 6-0 UCF lead. Two batters later, first baseman Rylan Thomas hit his team-leading ninth homer to left field.

“I had Hamblin on first base, and he’s working to steal. He’s working to get the pitcher to think about him, and he just kinda left one over the plate for me,” Putnam said after the game. “So, it’s a credit to, like, Hamblin and his good base-running.”

Thomas got the Knights going early with a one-out, two-RBI double in the first. Putnam got on base with a single to left field. That was followed by second baseman Matthew Mika‘s right-field single, which allowed Putnam to advance to third.

“I mean, you always want to play, like, with the lead,” Putnam said. “It’s comforting. You feel a little bit more relaxed, but you never try to tense up, whether you’re behind or whether you’re in the lead. You always just try to stay, you know, within yourself.”

UConn notched its lone run of the game in the sixth inning. Center fielder Keith Krueger led off with a double to left field and reached third on a fielding error by outfielder Kyle Marsh. After lead-off man Anthony Prato struck out, left fielder Troy Stefanski grounded out at first, allowing Krueger to score the Huskies’ first and only run of the game.

Player of the Game: Robby Howell

Howell pitched his second complete game of the season and of his career. He also notched a season-high 11 strikeouts after conceding a four-pitch walk to start the game. The senior didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning.

Bringing Back Brennan Bozeman

Shortstop Brennan Bozeman suffered a hand injury early in the season and has figured himself back into the starting lineup since playing in a 5-3 win over Stetson University on April 5.

For Lovelady, Bozeman’s return has helped his team’s defense improve.

“Good for him. I’m happy for him. But that’s the way he plays. He’s gonna play all out,” Lovelady said. “Since we got him, our defense has really shored up. And it just makes a difference out there. Being able to put [third baseman Kam Gellinger] back in his more natural position, and Boze is able to make those plays… His release is so fast.”

Said Howell about Bozeman: “It’s incredible. We’ve been playing great defense all year. Especially Brennan Bozeman at short. It’s nice to have him back. We play great defense. It’s good. It’s good to be able to pitch with a good defense like that.”

What’s next?

UCF and UConn continue their series on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Highlights

NDR Notes

  • Howell finished the game with his second-career complete game and a new season-high in strikeouts with nine.
  • Thomas extended his home-run lead to nine with a two-run bomb in the fourth inning.

Scoring

University of Central Florida University of Connecticut
Runs 8 1
Hits 11 4
Errors 1 1
Left on Base 8 5
Inning Team Play Score
B1 University of Central Florida Rylan Thomas doubled to left-center field, 2 RBIs; Matthew Mika scored; Eli Putnam scored 2-0, UCF
B3 University of Central Florida Kyle Marsh doubled down left-field line, RBI; Rylan Thomas scored 3-0, UCF
B3 University of Central Florida Brennan Bozeman flew out to left field, RBI; Kyle Marsh scored, unearned 4-0, UCF
B4 University of Central Florida Eli Putnam home run to left-center field, 2 RBIs; Luke Hamblin scored 6-0, UCF
B4 University of Central Florida Rylan Thomas home run, 2 RBIs; Matthew Mika scored 8-0, UCF
T6 University of Connecticut Troy Stefanski grounded out to first unassisted, RBI; Keith Krueger scored 8-1, UCF

Statistics and Starting Lineups

Pitching

Player Team IP R ER H BB SO
Robby Howell (6-0) University of Central Florida 9.0 1 1 4 2 11
Tim Cate (3-3) University of Connecticut 3.1 8 7 11 1 6

Hitting

Player Team AB H R HR RBI SB BB SO
Rylan Thomas University of Central Florida 4 3 2 1 4 0 0 0
Eli Putnam University of Central Florida 5 2 2 1 2 0 0 1
Matthew Mika University of Central Florida 4 2 2 0 0 3 0 0
Troy Stefanski University of Connecticut 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 1

UCF starting lineup: 1. Luke Hamblin (8) 2. Eli Putnam (9) 3. Matthew Mika (4) 4. Rylan Thomas (3) 5. Kyle Marsh (7) 6. Bryce Peterson (DH) 7. Brennan Bozeman (6) 8. Kam Gellinger (5) 9. Anthony George (2)

UCF starting pitcher: Robby Howell (5-0)

UConn starting lineup: 1. Anthony Prato (6) 2. Troy Stefanski (7) 3. Willy Yahn (5) 4. Zac Susi (2) 5. John Toppa (DH) 6. Isaac Feldstein (9) 7. Chris Winkel (3) 8. Conor Moriarty (4) 9. Keith Krueger (8)

UConn starting pitcher: Tim Cate (3-2)

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