Zach Rodgers has career day on mound, No. 18 UCF evens series with Tulane
NEW ORLEANS -- Zach Rodgers tossed a three-hit shutout with a career-high 11 strikeouts in No. 18 UCF's 8-0 victory at Tulane on Saturday. A solo homer by Derrick Salberg to start the third inning provided the Knights' offense with early confidence, while a five-run ninth put the game out of reach.
"Zach did a terrific job for us and it was a great team win," head coach Terry Rooney said. "There were a lot of great quality at-bats throughout the entire day and we played solid defense. Overall, it was a tremendous team win."
The gem thrown by Rodgers (7-0) was his first shutout as a Knight and his third consecutive complete game, where he has fanned a total of 34 hitters and allowed two earned runs. Ben Lively was the last UCF player to register a shutout on the road (at East Carolina -- May 16, 2013).
"I filled up the zone. It is hard to be a hitter when a guy keeps coming at you with strikes," Rodgers said. "I tried to keep my tempo up throughout the game and throw a lot of strikes."
The Knights (26-14, 5-6 The American) provided Rodgers with a 2-0 lead before he took the mound. James Vasquez recorded an RBI infield single, while Kyle Marsh executed a squeeze for the second run of the frame.
The Salberg homer, his second of the season, hit the top of the wall and caromed over the right field fence on the second pitch of the third inning.
Rodgers continued to dazzle with five punch-outs looking and only one lead-off runner for Tulane (23-15, 5-6 The American) reaching base.
With the Knights ahead 3-0, Logan Heiser started off the ninth inning with a ground-rule double down the left field line. A triple was legged out by JoMarcos Woods to right to bring in Heiser.
After a walk was drawn by Dylan Moore, Salberg put the Knights up 5-0 on a sac fly to center. Vasquez doubled in a run with a shot down the right field line, then Marsh drove in a pair with a single to left to make it 8-0.
The loss was given to Emerson Gibbs (3-2), who fanned six hitters in eight innings, while Dan Rankin threw the ninth. Hunter Williams registered two of the Green Wave's three hits.