ORLANDO, Fla. – Behind an outstanding effort from the bullpen, third-ranked Florida State (10-2) beat UCF (11-2) 5-2 Tuesday evening at the UCF Baseball Complex, extending its winning streak to eight games. Alec Byrd (1-1) picked up his first win of the year, and Quincy Nieporte tallied three more RBI’s to pace the offense.
Starter Andrew Karp left the game after four innings, giving way to Byrd, Chase Haney, and closer Drew Carlton. The trio combined to allow no hits and just one baserunner (a four-pitch walk from Byrd) and strike out six over the final five innings.
FSU took advantage of a pair of UCF errors in the first inning to take an early 1-0 lead. Taylor Walls led off and reached on a fielding error by the shortstop, and reached third on Rhett Aplin’s bunt single that was thrown into centerfield by the third baseman. Walls would score on Nieporte’s groundout, his first RBI of the game and 20th of the season.
The Noles added a run in the fourth on Aplin’s leadoff double and Cal Raleigh’s RBI single. Aplin finished 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a hit by pitch on the day, raising his season average to .387 and his on-base percentage to .500.
UCF scored its only two runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth on Logan Heiser’s first home run of the season. It was just the third home run FSU has allowed this season, and the first against Karp. Karp would leave the game after the fourth, allowing two hits and two runs, walking two and striking out six.
The Seminoles answered with the final three runs of the game in the fifth inning against UCF starter Chris Williams (0-2). After the first two batters went down, second baseman Matt Henderson dropped down a bunt single that began the big inning. Following Henderson, Walls (single), Dylan Busby (game-winning RBI single), Aplin (hit by pitch) and Nieporte (2-RBI single) reached base to make the score 5-2. Nieporte has a team-high 22 RBI’s on the season.
With Jackson Lueck missing his first game of the year, Henderson was a late addition to the lineup. Head coach Mike Martin moved freshman Nick Derr to right field and freshman Tyler Daughtry got his first start in left field. With J.C. Flowers in center, all three outfield spots were taken by true freshmen.
With a 5-2 lead, Byrd entered in the fifth and struck out the side. He finished with four strikeouts in two innings, allowing just one walk.
Haney pitched a perfect seventh, while Carlton pitched a perfect eighth and ninth innings. In two save opportunities this year (also at Jacksonville last week), Carlton has gone 12-up, 12-down in earning the first two saves of his career.
The win moved the Seminoles to 10-2 on the year and eight wins in a row, the longest streak since winning 11 consecutive early in the 2015 season. It was UCF’s first loss at home on the season. Last week, the Knights beat No. 2 Florida 11-2 in Orlando.
FSU and UCF will conclude the two-game series Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. at the UCF Baseball Complex. The game will stream live on UCFKnights.tv and fans can listen to live play-by-play all season long from Eric Luallen on 106.1 FM in Tallahassee or nationwide through the FSU Gameday App.
For more information on Florida State baseball, check Seminoles.com for the latest news and scheduling information, or keep up with the team on social media through Twitter (@FSUBaseball), Facebook (/FSUBaseball), and Instagram (@NoleBaseball).