The heartbreaking loss
dropped UCF to 26-19 overall and 10-10 in the A-Sun while Gardner-Webb improved
to 28-19 and 13-13 in the league.
In game one, Stertzbach (3-4) was helped by a Golden Knights' offense that registered 10 hits and two home runs in the shutout win.
The complete game shutout for Stertzbach was the first by a UCF pitcher on the road since Casey Kennedy blanked No. 24 Clemson 5-0 on January 30, 2000. Kennedy shutout the Tigers at the ACC/Disney Blast at Disney's Wide World of Sports in the first series of the 2000 campaign.
Stertzbach was in control all day long, as he yielded just three hits while facing just four batters over the minimum. Stertzbach fanned six as he retired 10 of the game's final 11 batters.
The Golden Knights scored first with two runs on one swing in the second. Rich Wallace drilled a two-run home run to left-center to give UCF a 2-0 advantage. Ryan Bear led off the inning with a double to left field before Wallace hit his fourth home run of the season on an 0-2 count.
UCF extended its lead in the sixth with two important insurance runs. Drew Butera drove in a run with a single through the left side to give the Golden Knights a 3-0 lead. P.J. Lehmann executed a perfect sacrifice squeeze bunt to score Clay Timpner to extend the Golden Knights lead to 4-0.
Bear, Wallace and Timpner fueled the UCF attack by going 7-for-10 with two home runs, two doubles and four RBI.
Bear finished things off in the seventh after he crushed a two-run home run to left field to increase the lead to 6-0.
In game two, Mark Michael and Zachery Ward each tossed four scoreless innings before UCF tallied a run in the fifth. Timpner going things started with a double down the left field line, his third two-bagger of the twinbill. After a wild pitch, Butera lined a RBI-single to left field to plate Timpner giving UCF a 1-0 lead.
UCF looked to be in control for their second straight shutout win entering the seventh before the Bulldogs pulled off a remarkable comeback.
Michael yielded a single to Sam Bradford to start the inning before David Futrelle laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Bradford to second. Jay Bergman then made the call to the bullpen for freshman closer Kyle Bono, who entered the game with a sparkling 0.36 ERA.
Bono walked the first batter he faced to load the bases before Jim Glueckert registered an infield single to tie the game at one. The hit stayed just fair on front of Bono, in between first base and home plate. With the bases still loaded and one out, Matt Higginson flied out to shallow left field for the second out, but Ryan McGirr tagged up on the play and scored the game-winning run after Butera threw the ball away on the relay throw to end the game.
The improbable comeback win snapped a streak of 13.1 scoreless innings for the UCF pitching staff to start the series and ruined a bid for back-to-back shutout wins in the conference. The back-to-back shutout wins would have been a first in UCF history in an A-Sun contest.
UCF stranded five runners in the game-two loss and hit into four double plays.
Michael earned the hard-luck loss, falling to 6-4 on the year. He fanned seven while allowing just three hits and one earned run on the day.
UCF attempts to win the series Monday at 1:30 p.m. at Varsity Field on the campus of Gardner-Webb. Matt Fox is scheduled to start his first career A-Sun game on the hill tomorrow for UCF. With a win, UCF will move into fifth place in the conference standings while a loss will drop the Golden Knights to ninth place.
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