Temple was feeling confident with ace Matt Hockenberry on the hill in the opener. The senior was 3-0 with a solid 2.17 ERA entering the game but the Knights would hit him hard in the contest. The Owls would take the early lead in the third as Hockenberry and UCF southpaw Eric Skoglund were dueling through two.
Skoglund was wild in the inning walking the bases loaded and C Michael D’Acunti made him pay with a clutch two out RBI single to put the Owls ahead 1-0. 2B Dylan Moore would spark a UCF comeback in the bottom half of the inning with a double and CF Derrick Salberg drove in a run with a RBI sac fly to tie the game.
The Knights, fresh off a sweep of AAC foe Cincinnati, provided the game’s deciding moment in the third when the bases were loaded and two outs were gone in the fourth. Hockenberry served up a RBI double to Moore to send all three runs home on the hit as the favorites took the 4-1 lead on the offensively challenged Owls. The weakness endured all season broke out of it’s shell in the fifth as the Owls’ bats finally woke up in the affair.
With two outs 3B Derek Peterson doubled and the heart of the order pulled through to accumulate three consecutive singles by 1B Robert Amaro, D’Acunti, and DH Andrew Nist. With the Owls now down one and a runner on second, Skoglund retired the final Temple hitter to end the comeback as the Knights held their one run lead.
Freshman Jarrod Petree came in for Skoglund in the sixth to pitch a 1 2 3 inning as UCF needed just nine more outs for their fourth consecutive AAC victory. Hockenberry added to his struggles on the day throwing a wild pitch and a RBI single to Moore to give the Knights another three run lead. The Owls had chances in both the seventh and eighth innings but failed to capitalize with runners in scoring position and two outs. They did however cut the lead with a Peterson solo shot in the ninth off closer Zach Rodgers but it didn’t amount to more as the Knights held on for the 6-4 victory.
Matt Hockenberry (3-1) was charged with his first loss of the season going 6.0 innings giving up six runs on eight hits to go along with his five strikeouts. Eric Skoglund (4-0) remains perfect on the year going 5.0 innings letting up three runs on seven hits.
Peterson and D’Acunti both had three hits for the game for the Owls and Dylan Moore had a disgusting line going 4-4 with four RBI.
The Owls (7-11, 2-2) clash with the Knights again Saturday in Orlando.