The highest ranking in program history for UCF came in 2001 at No. 7 in the Baseball America polls.
While keeping their weekend-series unbeaten streak alive by taking two-of-three at Southern Miss, the Knights remained in the top 15 of the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 coaches’ poll and the Baseball America rankings at No. 14 and 15, respectively.
UCF has appeared in each Baseball America poll since its No. 21 preseason ranking and joins Rice (No. 7) as the only two teams in Conference USA to appear in both polls.
Monday also saw UCF climb to No. 12, up three spots from last week, in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper standings.
UCF returned home Tuesday to face Florida Atlantic before heading back out on the road this weekend for a C-USA showdown at Tulane starting Friday at 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s game will start at 3 p.m. and Sunday’s finale at 2 p.m.
The No. 13 UCF baseball team kept its weekend-series unbeaten streak alive after routing Southern Miss, 12-3, Sunday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park. The Knights, as of Sunday afternoon, became just the fifth team to win 30 games in Division I this season.
UCF, winners in five of its last six in Hattiesburg, smacked 13 hits, including five of the extra-base variety, and had Ryan Breen, D.J. Hicks and Chris Taladay all notch multiple-RBI performances. Senior Ray Hanson went 6 2/3 innings and allowed just two earned runs while striking out five for his third win of the year.
One of the more impressive and painful records fell on Sunday as center fielder Ronnie Richardson (3-for-4), was hit in back-to-back at-bats to give him 23 on the year, and 53 for his career, to overtake Shane Brown for the single-season record in the category.
After each pitcher made it through the first two innings with ease, USM's Boomer Scarborough ran into trouble in the third after he walked Hicks (1-for-4, 2 RBI) and Taladay (2-for-3, 2 RBI) to lead off the frame. Alex Friedrich (1-for-4) laid down a sacrifice bunt that left all the runners safe. After a balk to bring home a run, Breen (2-for-5, 4 RBI) smacked his third triple of the year down the right-field line to end Scarborough's afternoon. Travis Shreve (1-for-5) would tack on one more run on a RBI-groundout.
UCF extended its lead in the top of the fifth after Southern Miss put up two runs in the previous frame. Taladay extended his hitting streak to eight games with a double to the wall in right-center and was brought home on a RBI groundout by Breen. JoMarcos Woods (1-for-4) tacked on a run-scoring single over the shortstop's outstretched glove in shallow center to make it 6-2.
The Knights added exclamation points to the triumph with three runs each in the sixth and seventh frames on seven hits. Taladay took a 0-1 pitch to center field for a pair of RBI in the sixth and Hicks smashed a two-run homer, his 10th of 2012, over the left-center wall in the seventh to give him 54 RBI on the year.
Jimmy Reed and Bryan Brown finished off the contest that saw all three arms allow just five Southern Miss hits on the day.
UCF 11, USM 6
D.J. Hicks and Travis Shreve combined for seven RBI as the No. 13 UCF baseball team evened up the series at Southern Miss with an 11-6 triumph Saturday in front of 3,963 fans at Pete Taylor Park. The Knights (29-8, 8-3) reclaimed their Conference-USA lead with the win.
On the afternoon, UCF batters smacked 14 hits and were very aggressive on the basepaths with a season-high eight steals. Junior Chris Matulis notched win No. 5 of 2012 after tossing 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out four. Junior Roman Madrid earned his second save of the year after notching two outs in the eighth and finishing off the ninth.
After managing just six hits Friday night, UCF wasted no time in getting to USM's Jake Drehoff. Hitting second in the lineup, Darnell Sweeney (2-for-4, 1 RBI) crushed his team-leading fourth triple of the year and was brought home on a D.J. Hicks (2-for-3) RBI single to left-center. Third baseman Chris Taladay (1-for-5) reached on his 56th hit of the year and Alex Friedrich (2-for-5, 1 RBI) lifted a ball into center field to score Hicks during the opening frame.
The second inning saw the Knights swing away once again as JoMarcos Woods (2-for-4, 3 runs) ripped a double down the right-field line and was brought home by Travis Shreve (2-for-5, 4 RBI) who smacked a 3-2 pitch past the third baseman.
Southern Miss responded in the bottom of the third with a trio of runs off Matulis to tie up the game. The Knights responded in the top of the fifth as Ronnie Richardson (2-for-5, 3 SB) doubled and Sweeney walked. The speedy duo executed the double steal perfectly, which allowed Hicks to register his 15th career sacrifice fly, second all-time at UCF, to give the Knights a 4-3 advantage.
UCF wasn't done scoring as they came back in the sixth with a pair of runs on just a hit and four steals. Woods notched his second double of the game and stole third which setup Shreve with another RBI opportunity that he took advantage of with a grounder to second base. After Jeramy Matos stole second and advanced on the grounder, he and Richardson completed another double steal that gave the Knights a 6-3 lead.
After a Sweeney RBI single in the top of the eighth, Southern Miss rallied for three runs on three hits, but the damage was minimized when Madrid entered from the bullpen and got two groundouts to keep the 7-6 lead.
The Knights would put the game away for good in the ninth, scoring four runs on three hits while sending nine to the plate. Shreve sent a shot past the shortstop for a two-run single and Hicks hit his second sacrifice fly of the game for his third RBI on the day.
USM 1, UCF 0, 14-INNINGS
In a contest that featured 13-1/2 scoreless innings, the No. 13 UCF baseball team was unable to come away with its league-leading eighth win Friday night as Southern Miss took the series opener, 1-0.
Pinch-hitter Mason Robbins' RBI bloop double along the left-field line was all the Golden Eagles (20-13, 4-3) needed in a pitcher's duel that saw 12 1-2-3 innings combined and just 14 hits.
From the game's onset, the 3,638 fans in attendance were treated to a gem by starters Brian Adkins and USM's Andrew Pierce. Adkins went seven scoreless and allowed just three hits while striking out three and Pierce notched nine run-free frames with 10 strikeouts and five hits allowed.
After starting the game with a 3-0 count to the leadoff batter, Adkins mowed down the Golden Eagles by allowing just two base hits through five innings. In the fourth, after walking his only batter, the Orlando native got some help from his defense when Darnell Sweeney, Travis Shreve and D.J. Hicks turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the frame.
In the sixth, Adkins buckled down after giving up a one-out single and a Golden Eagle batter reaching on catcher's interference to get through the frame unscathed. He stranded a runner on third after inducing a groundout to Hicks and flyout to Woods in left field.
UCF had a chance to drive home runs in the eighth inning after two-straight singles by Shreve and Ronnie Richardson and Sweeney reaching on an error. With the bags chock-full, Hicks and Pierce battled to a 3-2 count after three-straight balls to open the at-bat. On the eighth pitch, Pierce got Hicks to swing through a fastball to end the frame.
After a scoreless frame by Roman Madrid in relief of Adkins and two zeros on the board by Joe Rogers, it was high drama in the bottom of the 11th. Ben Lively ran into trouble with a one-out walk followed by an intentional base on balls and single to shallow center to load the bags. Lively wouldn't be phased by the pressure as he struck out Dillon Day swinging and froze Isaac Rodriguez on three straight down the plate to exit the jam.
After just a single by Breen during the next three frames, the Golden Eagles cashed in on the Robbins' double to score Rodriquez and take game one.