ORLANDO, Fla. — Senior co-captain Jeff Onstott delivered a two-out RBI double in the ninth to tie the game, and his fellow co-captain, Joe Sclafani, beat out an infield hit to score the winning run in the 10th as Dartmouth (1-2) salvaged a split of a doubleheader and the third game of the series at UCF on Saturday evening, 8-6. The host Knights (9-2) tossed an 8-0 shutout in the first game of the twinbill.
Trailing 6-5 to start the ninth, Dartmouth began the frame with an infield single by senior Sam Bean, who advanced to third on a pair of grounders to short. Onstott then strode to the plate and stroked a double to center to score Bean. Knight hurler Joe Rogers (0-1) recovered to get the third out on strikes to keep the game knotted at six.
Sophomore southpaw Michael Johnson (1-0) came out of the bullpen for the Big Green and retired UCF in order in the ninth on six pitches. In the 10th, junior Jake Carlson legged out an infield hit to start a threat. Senior Brandon Parks did his job in getting the bunt down to send Carlson to second, who then took third on a fly to right. Facing an 0-2 count, Sclafani put the bat on the ball and beat out a single to allow the go-ahead run to score. After a wild pitch, Bean brought around the insurance run with a shot between third and short.
Michael Johnson tossed a scoreless ninth and 10th to earn the victory.
Johnson quickly retired the first two hitters before things got interesting. Beau Taylor drew a walk before D.J. Hicks singled him to second. The rally died there, however, when Alex Friedrich lofted a routine fly to center to end the game.
It was UCF that trailed going into the bottom of the eighth, 5-4, before working a little two-out magic of its own. Big Green closer Ryan Smith had come on in the sixth and retired the first six batters he faced, but Ronnie Richardson singled to start the eighth. He advanced a base on each of the two outs that followed, then Hicks walked putting runners on the corners. Chris Taladay jumped on the first pitch he saw and hit a gapper to right-center for a two-run double and 6-5 Knight lead.
Down 4-1 in the sixth, the Big Green struck for four runs to take its first lead of the season. Senior Jason Brooks and Onstott both walked with one gone and sophomore Ennis Coble followed with a triple into the right-field corner to score both runners. Two batters later, Parks got Coble home with a sacrifice fly, then freshman Ryan Toimil and Sclafani singled to give Dartmouth a 5-4 lead.
The Knights had touched Big Green starter Cole Sulser for three runs in the first with Ryan Breen socking a two-run single to highlight the inning. Dartmouth got one back in the third on Toimil’s first collegiate hit, a walk to Sclafani and an RBI double by Bean. With runners at second and third and nobody out, Bryan Brown bore down and fanned the next three hitters to escape further damage.
Dartmouth rapped out 13 hits in the nightcap victory with Bean going 3-for-6 with a double and a pair of RBIs. Richardson had three of UCF’s eight hits in the game, including his third triple of the young season.
Sulser struck out five in his five innings on the mound, yielding four runs on five hits and two walks.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Knights pounced on junior right-hander Kyle Hendricks in the first for a couple of runs. The first two batters each singled and stole second before Darnell Sweeney drove in a run with a fly to right, also advancing the other runner to third. Jonathan Griffin got the second run home with a soft grounder to third.
Jeff Onstott delivered the clutch two-out RBI in the ninth to tie the game at six.
That was all UCF could muster against Hendricks (0-1) in his five innings on the hill, but it certainly proved to be enough as Ben Lively as shutting down the Big Green bats. He yielded just four hits and walked three, stranding five runners — including the bases loaded in the second — over six innings with three strikeouts. The designated hitter Hicks hurled the final three innings and overpowered Dartmouth, fanning seven and allowing merely a double to sophomore Chris O’Dowd.
In the sixth, the Knights extended their lead against freshman reliever Mitch Horacek thanks to an RBI double by Breen and a two-run single by Hicks, making it 5-0. UCF tacked on three more in the eighth when Travis Shreve singled home one and Richardson drove in two more with a base hit.
Shreve went 4-for-5 for the Knights and stole three bases to spearhead the 14-hit attack.
Dartmouth has this week off from competition for finals, then returns to Florida for 10 games the following week, beginning with a contest against Akron on Thursday, March 17 at 2 p.m. at Babson Park, Fla. Next up for UCF is the fifth game of a 13-game homestand when the Knights welcome Mount St. Mary’s to Bergman Field on Tuesday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m.