BASEBALL: Tops open season with two wins

Michael Casagrande

In a year when freshmen have made defining statements in Western athletics, Tim Grogan took his turn last weekend to make his presence known on the Hill.

The rookie third baseman led the Toppers (2-1) to a surprising early season series victory over the 26th ranked Golden Knights of Central Florida (2-3).

After splitting the first two games, Grogan had an offensive coming out party at the expense of the UCF pitching staff in the rubber match Sunday afternoon.

Grogan was 2-for-3 at the plate, but it was his lead-off home run in the top of the tenth inning Friday that gave Western the 4-3 win.

Despite Grogan’s youth, Coach Joel Murrie said he had little doubt in his newest prodigy.

“I’m not surprised in the quality of play because he is a quality baseball player,” Murrie said. “He’s got an extreme amount of poise as a freshman, and I think this is just the beginning of what’s going to be a very successful career for him.”

The Toppers brought little love with them in the series opener on Valentine’s Day. Western spoiled the Golden Knight’s holiday by stealing a 4-2 victory behind the strong relief pitching of Matt Wilhite.

UCF responded to Western’s shocking win Friday with a narrow 6-5 win Saturday, but not before Grogan made some noise.

Grogan sent a bases-loaded, 3-2 offering off the scoreboard in right field in the top of the first to take an early 4-0 lead.

“I guess it gives me a little bit of confidence for the rest of the year,” the standout freshman said. “But I’m not going to be satisfied because there are a lot more games left this season.”

The Toppers could only muster one more run the rest of the game as UCF scattered six runs over the first six innings.

Western will return for their home opener Friday at Nick Denes Field against Illinois State at 2 p.m.

Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected].