B-CU Brings the Bats While Durapau Silences UCF, 6-0
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (3-6) came out strong in a midweek non-conference tilt with big-hitting Conference USA opponent UCF (4-4), Wednesday at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. However, it was the Wildcats who put the barrel on the ball, outhitting the Knights 14-4 en route to a 6-0 shutout and the second-straight complete game for Montana Durapau.
"I think we played good defense, had timely hitting, did a good job of the situational hitting with the bunts, and then obviously our pitching was excellent," Head Coach Jason Beverlin said. "This style of game really suits us well. We got to play more our style of game tonight."
Durapau set the tone early, grounding out the first UCF batter on the initial pitch, retiring the first three on just seven pitches. The Deltona, Fla. junior possessed total command in the early going, holding the Knights without a hit through 2 2/3 innings.
B-CU came out gunning for base hits in the fifth, opening the frame with consecutive bunt singles from Brandon Turner and Josh Johnson, setting the stage for an Eros Modena RBI, cracking a single to shallow center field. UCF starter Eric Skogland (0-2) hit Lee to load the bases, prompting the entry of Chris Matulis on the hill for the Knights with no outs.
Earning one out, Matulis pitched around the zone on Anthony Stokes, but the junior delivered in the clutch, patiently waiting on the pitch he wanted, sharply driving the ball up the middle for a two-RBI single and the 4-0 advantage.
"He had some very quality at-bats," Beverlin said of Stokes. "He got down in the count a couple times but was able to fight off some pitches and then do a good job of getting his pitch and driving in some runs."
McCarty led off the sixth with a single just over the first baseman's reach, and Johnson joined him on the basepath as B-CU's second hit batter. Modena's single to right center gave B-CU a scoring opportunity in consecutive innings, as the UCF fielder struggled to scoop up the ball, and Johnson was waved home for the run. Lee followed up with a single for his second RBI of the night, pushing B-CU on top 6-0.
The Knights reached scoring position, logging their only runner beyond third in the top of the eighth, but Durapau closed the frame on a five-pitch swinging strikeout.
Durapau retired the final push from UCF in order in the ninth, securing the shutout and snapping a 10-game winning streak for the Knights in the series (Last B-CU win: February 28, 2006, Orlando, Fla.). He also locked in another nine frames to extend his streak without allowing a run to 19 innings, while pitching his second consecutive complete game solo shutout.
"The numbers really speak for themselves," Beverlin noted of Durapau's performance. "With our pitching situation the way it is, for him to pitch that deep into every start is just a huge lift to our pitching staff and obviously our team."
Durapau allowed just four hits and two walks in nine innings, while striking out five batters.
"An early lead is always good for a pitcher," Durapau said. "You get into a groove and just stay dominant. Everything just kind of came together the way [we] planned it."
At the plate, B-CU tallied 14 hits, led by Johnson's perfect 3-for-3 hitting performance, scoring two runs. Modena also delivered, hitting 3-for-4 with an RBI. Stokes (3-for-5) and Lee (1-for-3) each logged a pair of RBI apiece.
The Wildcats continue their homestand at "The Jack" this weekend, opening Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play with cross-state rival Florida A&M (0-8). The Rattlers return from a two-game midweek outing at Mercer, both losses, falling to the Bears by a combined score of 29-4.
The Wildcats will face the Rattlers in a doubleheader on Saturday (March 2), beginning at 1 p.m., returning on Sunday (March 3) to wrap the series with a single game at 1 p.m.