Second-seeded UCF scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning to top the Missouri State Bears, 2-1, Friday afternoon in NCAA Division I Championship opening-round action at the Coral Gables Regional. Chris Taladay’s one-out single to right field drove in Ronnie Richardson and spoiled another strong starting performance from national player of the year Nick Petree in the Bears’ first postseason game since 2003.
Petree (10-4) allowed just two runs on six hits in a complete-game effort, but the Bears could not overcome a pair of key baserunning errors and 12 men left on base, despite out-hitting the Knights, 8-6. MSU (39-21) saw two runners tagged out in between third base and home plate, and failed to put any runs on the board in a pivotal eighth inning after loading the bases with nobody out.
Richardson, who singled to start UCF’s decisive rally in the eighth, sparked the Knights’ offense throughout the day, going 2-for-4 and scoring both UCF runs. The junior outfielder wasted little time in putting the Knights on top, driving the fifth pitch of the game from Petree over the left-field wall—the first home run allowed all season by the Bears’ right-hander, who was named 2012 Louisville Slugger National Player of the Year on Thursday.
The Bears will face the loser of Friday’s second game, featuring top seeded Miami (36-21) and the No. 4 seed Stony Brook (46-11), at 1 p.m. (Central) on Saturday.