Quick Start Propels Knights to Series Win Over Huskies

The University of Central Florida won its third American Athletic Conference series with a series-finale win over the University of Connecticut.

University of Central Florida second baseman Matthew Mika slides home during an 8-2 win over the University of Connecticut at Jay Bergman Field on Sunday, April 23, 2017. (Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)
(Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

Game Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. – There has been one common denominator in respective wins for the University of Central Florida and the Connecticut Huskies during this series: early offensive starts. In Sunday’s series-finale, the Knights (29-12, 7-5 in American Athletic Conference) scored four runs in the first to help defeat the Huskies (22-16, 7-5 in AAC) 8-2 at Jay Bergman Field.

University of Central Florida third baseman Kam Gellinger attempts to lay down a bunt during an 8-2 win over the University of Connecticut at Jay Bergman Field on Saturday, April 23, 2017. (Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

“If you’re playing the game and not worried about the inning, you’re not worried about the opponent, you’re not worried about the situation, the weather, the umpires, you just go out there and compete,” first-year UCF head coach Greg Lovelady said after the game. “With the offense and the type of talent that we have, that’s the way we should do it every inning.

“I mean, we should have runners on, we should be putting pressure on people, making them play catch and making them stop us, and if you do that, you should be able to score runs in bunches and score runs often and never feel like the other team gets an easy out, one through nine.

“I think that’s one of the biggest strengths of our ball clubs. And that’s the type of expectation I have for the guys every single day.”

Starting pitcher Joe Sheridan (7-3) got the start and the win on the mound after his five-strikeout performance in 6.0 innings. Sheridan also two earned runs on eight hits and two walks. For UConn, left-hander Mason Feole (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season after going just 3.0 innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits and a walk.

University of Central Florida starting pitcher Joe Sheridan pitches the ball during an 8-2 win over the University of Connecticut at Jay Bergman Field on Sunday, April 23, 2017. (Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

“I’ve gotten a few starts under my belt now,” Sheridan said after the game. “Feeling comfortable out there. And week to week, I just feel better and better every week. I don’t think I had my best stuff today, but I was still comfortable enough with what I was doing and what I’ve done in the past to be able to make pitches in the right situations.

“They had a lot of pressure on base during the game, and I was really able to make pitches when I had to even without my best stuff. So, I’ve been getting more comfortable every week, so it’s been going well.”

Right fielder Eli Putnam helped put the game out of reach for UConn in the sixth inning with a two-run shot over the left-field wall. His second home run of the series, his sixth of the season, came after the Huskies scored two in the fifth after trailing 6-0.

University of Central Florida designated hitter Max Wood swings at a ball during an 8-2 win over the University of Connecticut at Jay Bergman Field on Sunday, April 23, 2017. (Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

Lovelady said Sunday’s win ranked as one of the best, if not the best, games his team has played all season.

“There might’ve been one other game where we played just as well,” Lovelady said. “In terms of every inning, it might have been. So, it’s the best or the second-best that we’ve played all year. Again, we’re getting there. We gotta show that consistency now, that this is the type of stuff we talk about. We’re trying to get ourselves prepared for the end of the year, and you constantly get better every single day.”

Four-straight base hits started the Knights’ scoring effort in the first when first baseman Rylan Thomas singled to the shortstop and drove in lead-off man Luke Hamblin. Putnam and second baseman Matthew Mika would then score off consecutive sacrifice flyouts for a 3-0 lead. Shortstop Brennan Bozeman’s double down the right-field line drove in Thomas for the fourth and final run of the first.

For Sheridan, having those early runs helps him pitch the rest of his outing.

“Especially coming out series tied 1-1, when we scored those four runs in the bottom of the first, just gives me some more wiggle room, lets the defense be a little easier and just makes it a lot easier to pitch,” Sheridan said.

UConn’s two runs in the fifth were set up by two walks and a base hit to start the fifth. Center fielder Keith Krueger’s ground-out RBI to first gave the Huskies their first run of the game. On the next at-bat, third baseman Willy Yahn singled to second to drive in shortstop Conor Moriarty.

Player of the Game: Eli Putnam

Putnam finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and a two-run home run. He also drew a walk and stole a base. His homer in the sixth inning helped put the game out of reach for the Huskies and solidified the final score.

What’s next?

The Knights will next host the Memphis Tigers in a three-game series starting on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Greg Lovelady Is Hopeful Logan Heiser Will Play Against Memphis

Junior catcher and perennial starter Logan Heiser has been out with a concussion-related injury since the series against the University of South Florida. In his stead, sophomore Anthony George has played.

Lovelady said after Sunday’s win that Heiser’s recovery has been “up and down.”

“It’s kinda up and down, roller coaster. There’s good days and bad days,” Lovelady said. “You know, you feel bad ‘cus you know how Logan wants to get back in the game, so, he feels he has a good day, probably does a little bit too much and becomes a little more sore. So, we kinda slowed him down a little bit and just said, ‘Look, we’ll be fine. George is playing well.’ No mid-week games this week, so he didn’t do anything today, just kinda took off.

“Once we knew that the chance of him playing was small, we said, ‘Look, just take it off. You’ll have off tomorrow. Just keep getting treatment.’ I’m hoping that he’s back for Friday. If not, George is doing a great job.”

Since figuring into the starting lineup in Game 3 against USF, George has hit 11-for-29 (.379) with four runs, four walks and two RBIs.


NDR Notes

  • Putnam’s two-run bomb in the sixth inning was his second of the series, his sixth of the season. He trails only Thomas with nine.
  • UCF scored eight runs in the first four innings in its win on Friday. In UConn’s win on Saturday, the Huskies scored five runs in the first three innings.


  University of Central Florida University of Connecticut
Runs 8 2
Hits 14 9
Errors 2 0
Left on Base 7 8
Inning Team Play Score
B1 University of Central Florida Rylan Thomas singled to shortstop, RBI; Matthew Mika advanced to second; Eli Putnam advanced to third; Luke Hamblin scored 1-0, UCF
B1 University of Central Florida Kyle Marsh flew out to center field, sacrifice fly, RBI; Rylan Thomas advanced to second; Matthew Mika advanced to third; Eli Putnam scored 2-0, UCF
B1 University of Central Florida Max Wood flew out to right field, sacrifice fly, RBI; Matthew Mika scored 3-0, UCF
B1 University of Central Florida Brennan Bozeman doubled down right-field line, RBI; Rylan Thomas scored 4-0, UCF
B3 University of Central Florida Brennan Bozeman singled to right-center field, RBI; Rylan Thomas scored 5-0, UCF
B4 University of Central Florida Anthony George singled down left-field line, RBI; Kam Gellinger scored 6-0, UCF
T5 University of Central Florida Keith Krueger grounded out to first unassisted, RBI; Jack Lambrecht advanced to second; Conor Moriarty advanced to third; Tyler Gnesda scored 6-1, UCF
T5 University of Central Florida Willy Yahn singled to second base, RBI; Jack Lambrecht advanced to third; Conor Moriarty scored 6-2, UCF
B6 University of Central Florida Eli Putnam home run, 2 RBIs; Anthony George scored 8-2, UCF

Statistics and Starting Lineups


Player Team IP R ER H BB SO
Joseph Sheridan (7-3) University of Central Florida 6.0 2 2 8 2 5
Jordan Scheftz University of Central Florida 1.0 0 0 1 1 2
Mason Feole (5-1) University of Connecticut 3.0 5 5 7 1 1
Ryan Radue University of Connecticut 2.2 2 2 2 0 4


Player Team AB H R HR RBI SB BB SO
Eli Putnam University of Central Florida 3 2 2 1 2 1 1 0
Rylan Thomas University of Central Florida 4 2 2 0 1 1 0 2
Brennan Bozeman University of Central Florida 4 3 0 0 2 0 0 1
Anthony George University of Central Florida 4 3 1 0 1 1 0 0
Keith Krueger University of Connecticut 4 1 0 0 1 0 0 1
Willy Yahn University of Connecticut 3 1 0 0 1 0 1 0

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

UCF starting pitcher: Joseph Sheridan (6-3)

UConn starting lineup: 1. Keith Krueger (8) 2. Willy Yahn (5) 3. Zac Susi (2) 4. Isaac Feldstein (9) 5. John Toppa (7) 6. Tyler Gnesda (DH) 7. Chris Winkel (3) 8. Conor Moriarty (6) 9. Aaron Hill (4)

UConn starting pitcher: Mason Feole (5-0)


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