The UCF baseball team beat the Penn State Nittany Lions 5-3 in a nail biter on Saturday at John Euliano Park.
The Knights shutout the Nittany Lions in the final inning with UCF sophomore outfielder Dalton Wingo jumping over the right-field fence to secure the last out of the game.
UCF senior right-handed pitcher Garrett Westberg ended the game in the top of the ninth, including striking out Penn State senior shortstop Conlin Hughes and sophomore outfielder Mac Hippenhammer.
Despite the robust defense that put UCF in a loss in Friday’s face off, Penn State consistently trailed one to two runs behind UCF throughout the entire game.
UCF exploded into action with a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after redshirt senior first baseman Tyler Osik got the Knights off to a quick start with a two-run home run.
The Nittany Lions stepped up their offense in the top of the second with junior catcher Jacob Padilla, who singled to shortstop and ran to home plate after a double from Hughes.
The Knights responded with a run of their own, bringing the score to 3-1 with an RBI single hit by Wingo, followed by a walk to second base and a run to home plate. The run was thanks to redshirt junior outfielder Ray Alejo, who hit a double.
“We started off really well, I mean obviously Osik getting that home run really put us in a good start,” UCF head coach Greg Lovelady said. “And then Ray [Alejo] ... he’s really carried us the whole year.”
Quick to retaliate, Penn State scored at the top of the third inning, with junior infielder Gavin Homer hitting a double and scoring on a passed ball.
Another small burst of back-and-forth fight was caused when UCF scored in the bottom of the fourth.
Senior infielder Brandon Hernandez batted an RBI single to left field, followed immediately by a triple from Alejo. Hernandez ran to home plate as cheers erupted from the stands.
In the top of the fifth, Penn State brought the score to 4-3 with yet another run by Homer.
Both UCF and Penn State fought hard but did not score in the sixth inning.
UCF redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Kyle Kemp took the mound in the sixth inning and didn't allow a single hit in the two innings he pitched.
Only in the bottom of the seventh inning did the Knights score with a home run from Alejo, bringing the score to a final 5-3.
“It felt good to get balls to fall, I mean I hit a lot of line drives the last few games and they haven’t really found holes,” Alejo said. “But they found holes tonight, and the guys in front of me just getting on base and making the pitchers work, I mean it’s just a good team win for us tonight.”
The Knight's victory their season record to an overall 10-4, despite not having any conference games yet.
The Knights will attempt to bring their record to an overall 11-4 and clinch the series against Penn State as they face off once again on Sunday at John Euliano Park.
"It’s great to get the series back to even," Kemp said. "But realistically we’re coming in here and we knew that we were good enough to win this series, if not sweep."