Five USF pitchers shut out UCF 4-0 Tuesday night at Red McEwen Field. Setting the tempo was starting pitcher, freshman Jon Kio. The left-hander pitched three innings, gave up two hits and no runs. Before Tuesday, Kio had a 20.77 ERA in four appearances on the mound.
“It was great to see him do that,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said. “He is such a great kid. He has never quit working hard.”
Tim Mattison followed up Kio in the top of the fourth. Three UCF batters went up and three went down at the mercy of Mattison in the fourth and fifth innings before he got himself into a sticky situation in the top of the sixth. A fielding error, a single to right and a walk loaded the bases up with no outs. Mattison took charge and retired the next three batters, ending the inning and any chance for a Golden Knight comeback.
“I just battled hard and knew if I could just get some strikes out there that the guys would make plays behind me,” Mattison said.
Hitting had its role in Tuesday’s victory. The Bulls struck first in the third inning, when Jeff Baisley reached third on a double and an error before Devin Ivany hit a sacrifice fly to bring Baisley in. The Bulls scored again in the third when Myron Leslie came in on a Ronnie Handley single.
USF really put the Golden Knights away in the fourth inning when Leslie doubled to left field, driving in Mike Cunningham and freshman Jermaine Smith.
“It was either a situation where I get a chance to drive in some runs, or they’re going to pitch around me like a lot of teams have,” Leslie said. “After he threw the first pitch, I kind of thought they were going to come after me, so I really got into the mind frame, ‘Okay let’s try to get these runs here.'”
Leslie wasn’t the only one with a double, as Smith’s two-bagger in the fourth was his first hit as a Bull. Smith made the first start of his career Tuesday at second base, where he had six assists and five putouts.
“It felt great,” Smith said. “I wasn’t really expecting to start, but I had to just take full advantage of it. I had to play my heart out because I am trying to earn a starting position, so when I get the chance, I gotta do something with it.”