Saturday's Key Moment: Friedrich's Crashing Catch
June 3, 2012
By John Denton
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF senior right fielder Alex Friedrich showed some incredible guile hours before Saturday's NCAA Regional game and then delivered some more confidence with the outcome hanging in the balance in the eighth inning.
Some six hours before the biggest game of his college baseball career, Friedrich playfully took to Twitter and sent socialite Kim Kardashian a tweet saying that he'd leave her a ticket if she wanted to come to the Knights' game against Stony Brook.
Then, with the game on the line, Friedrich came through with the play of the night - if not his career. Kardashian, a regular in Miami's party scene, didn't actually show up for the game, but she missed one of the best catches anyone will ever see in a college baseball game.
With UCF clinging to a 9-8 lead in the eighth inning and the potential tying run on second base, Stony Brook slugger William Carmona laced a drive into deep right field. Friedrich, UCF's best defensive player all season, made a leaping catch to rob what might have been a home run just before crashing into the wall.
The dazzling play kept UCF in the lead and the Knights went on to win 9-8 and move within one victory of its first-ever berth in a Super Regional.
``Well, considering the importance of this game, I'd say put this (catch) right up there at the top,'' Friedrich said.
After the game, Friedrich was asked about his invitation to Kardashian to attend the game. Rather than showing disappointment that he was ignored, Friedrich chose to look at the positive side of things.
``She must have not gotten my tweet because I did not put her on my ticket list,'' Friedrich said with a laugh. ``But I have a message for her: There's always tomorrow, Kim.''
Friedrich, who had eight outfield assists during the regular season, made a diving catch in Friday's 2-1 defeat of Missouri State near the foul line. But that effort paled in comparison to the screamer that he flagged down against the wall on Saturday night. Stony Brook undoubtedly would have tied the game had he not been able to make the catch and the ball could have left the park for a home run.
He made a slight adjustment prior to the pitch to play deeper and he credited center fielder Ronnie Richardson with helping him make the catch.
``Off the bat it sounded pretty well-hit, but I thought he might have gotten jammed a little bit. I took a couple of steps back (before the pitch) because the wind was howling and I didn't want to get burned,'' Friedrich said. ``I heard (centerfielder) Ronnie (Richardson) talking to me the whole way. I heard gravel (from the warning track) and then I heard fence. I have to give Ronnie for talking me through that play.''
UCF did not commit an error in the game and has made several key defensive plays in the two games so far. Defense is a big reason why the Knights have been so successful this season, especially in some of the 21 one-run games that UCF has played in. Shortstop Darnell Sweeney, who had a three-run home run in the second inning, ended the eighth and ninth innings with stellar defensive plays.
``Defensive wins championships,'' Friedrich said. ``We feel like we have good enough bats to put up runs and good enough pitchers who will have the ball put in play. Every pitch we have to be in it because you never know when the ball is going to be hit to you. We did really well defensively today.''
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at firstname.lastname@example.org.