The Gator baseball team fell in the second part of their home and home mid-week series with UCF, getting blown out in Orlando 11-2 on Wednesday. The loss drops the Gators to 7-2 on the season, while the Knights improve to 8-1 on the season. After going 14-0 in mid-week games last year, the Gators are now 1-2 in such games this season, with the other loss coming at Jacksonville last week.
Sophomore pitcher Michael Byrne (1-1) took the loss for the Florida, as he was tagged by the UCF lineup early on, allowing five runs, three of them earned, in just three innings of work.
Michael Byrne subbed of to start B4 for RHP Tyler Dyson for the #Gators .
Byrne's day: 3 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER,
— Jonathan Acosta (@jonacosta_10) March 2, 2017
Joseph Sheridan earned the win for the Knights, striking out four batters and allowing just one run on four hits in five innings of work.
Left fielder Kyle Marsh, first baseman Rylan Thomas, and shortstop Kam Gellinger each had three hits and combined to drive home nine runs, with Marsh having six RBI by himself to lead UCF to the victory. Meanwhile, the Gators as a whole went 6-for-31 at the plate, with no player having multiple hits and runners being left stranded in scoring position at several points in the game. Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said the Gators didn’t really do anything well on the night.
Knights Jump out to Lead
The first inning started shaky for the Orlando native Byrne. After Florida left Jonathan India stranded on second base after a double in the top of the first, UCF capitalized for two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Right fielder Eli Putnam kick-started things for the Knights at home. Putnam, the leadoff hitter, shot a 1-1 pitch from Byrne into left center field for a triple. The very next batter, center fielder Luke Hamblin, brought him home on an RBI single. Hamblin stole second on the following at-bat, and came home after left fielder Kyle Marsh hit a 2-2 breaking ball that hung over the plate to left field. Byrne was able to put out the next two batters, but not before UCF had a 2-0 lead.
The bottom of the third saw the Knights extend their lead to 5-0. Marsh started the three-run inning with a two run homer to left field that also scored Hamblin. UCF second baseman Ryan Crile reached first base on an error on the next at bat, and scored all the way from first on an RBI double to left-center field from first baseman Rylan Thomas. The damage ended there for that inning, but that would be the last of Byrne for the day. O’Sullivan brought in righty Tyler Dyson to start the bottom of the fourth inning.
Hamblin reaches first, steals second before Marsh is like, "I got you"
Florida 0 UCF 4 pic.twitter.com/dBDtnz0tIo
— UCF Baseball (@UCF_Baseball) March 2, 2017
The two teams traded runs in the fifth inning to make it a 6-1 Knights lead. Nick Horvath scored on a balk from UCF starter Joseph Sheridan, but Crile answered with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning to restore the five run lead.
Flood Gates Stay Open
No matter the pitching change O’Sullivan, the Gators just couldn’t stop the hot UCF bats. By the end of the seventh inning, the Knights opened up a convincing 11-2 lead. O’Sullivan said the Gators need to work on improving their body language, as it was poor while the Knights increased their lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Marsh added on to his productive night, producing a bases clearing double off of freshman pitcher Nick Long to give him a whopping six RBI on the night.
Florida tacked on a run in the top of the seventh after a Blake Reese RBI groundout to second base scored Keenan Bell. That cut the deficit to 9-2, but it did nothing to change the momentum.
UCF reached double digit runs in the bottom half of that same inning. With two runners on base, UCF shortstop Kam Gellinger lined a single down the left field line on a 1-2 count, scoring both runners to give the Knights their nine run lead.
Bryce Tucker came on in the top of the ninth and struck out two of the three batters he faced, closing the deal for the Knights and earning them a split in the series.
Final from Orlando, UCF defeats the #Gators 11-2.
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) March 2, 2017
The Gators will now turn their attention to Columbia who they’ll host in Gainesville for a three game series starting Friday.