With a combined effort from Kaleb Roper on the mound and the Tulane offense at the plate, the Green Wave baseball team earned a 6-2 victory over the UCF Knights to claim the first game of the series on Friday night at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
The Green Wave (28-17, 10-5 The American) earned four of their six runs in the first two innings, getting a pair of insurance runs in the sixth to jump out to a large lead that the Knights (21-19, 7-12 The American) would never be able to threaten.
Despite giving up a home run on the first pitch of the game, Kaleb Roper (6-4) pitched eight solid innings allowing only four hits, one walk, and coming a strikeout short of his career high with 11 in the game before being relieved by Brendan Cellucci who closed out the game in the ninth. At one point the senior retired 12 straight UCF batters in a row and 18 of 19 from the first until the seventh.
“I always talk about responding, and that’s what he did,” Tulane coach Travis Jewett said. “The game gets started right there on the dirt circle in the middle of the field, and when we get that kind of charge and energy it allows us to relax and let our offense go out and get to work.”
UCF starter Grant Schuermann (5-5) went seven innings allowing six runs on 12 hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Eight of those hits came against Trevor Jensen, Hudson Haskin, Jonathon Artigues and Grant Mathews who all produced a pair of hits each. Frankie Niemann belted a two-run home run, while Kobi Owen hit a solo shot.
A leadoff single by Jensen in the first got things started for the Green Wave after UCF took an early 1-0 lead, as he would be the first run scored off Niemann’s blast to center field, giving Tulane a 2-1 lead.
Owen led off the second with a home run down the right field line bringing the Tulane lead to 3-1. With a runner at first, Hoese rattled one off the wall in left center to score Sal Gozzo and push the Tulane lead to 4-1.
After a quiet couple of innings, Artigues singled to second base to open the Tulane sixth. Luke Glancy would then triple to center field with no outs, scoring Artigues and bringing the Tulane lead to 5-1. Grant Mathews earned his second hit of the day with a single to center field with one out to score Glancy and bring the Tulane lead to 6-1.
A home run by UCF first baseman Dallas Beaver in the top of the ninth would bring the final score to 6-2.
Game two of the series is set for a 6:30 p.m. start on Saturday at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane sports information contributed to this story.