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UCF Baseball Drops Two of Three to Maryland in Final Non-Conference Series

Saturdays are rough

Noah Goldberg

The UCF Knights Baseball team suffered its third weekend series loss this month after dropping two of three to Maryland.

Despite a win to open the series, the Terrapins put the Knights in holes too large to get out of on Saturday and Sunday.

“We can’t wait for people to do things that we’re comfortable with,” head coach Greg Lovelady said. “We’ve got to make the adjustment, we have to make them uncomfortable. We just got to do a better job with that.”

Game 1: Friday Winning Streak Continues

Thanks to another career performance on the mound, the Knights kept their Friday-night unbeaten streak alive with a 4-2 victory in Game 1 over the Terrapins.

Starting pitcher Ruddy Gomez once again set a new career-high for the longest outing of his career by going 8 innings. Along the way, he gave up 2 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks. He also struck out 7 batters.

“I don’t really like to put any limits on myself when I’m playing,” Gomez said. “I feel like when I put limits on myself then I’m not really helping out my team, I’m not going out there and giving my 100. So, I never feel like I can’t keep going.”

Closer Kyle Kramer managed to strike a batter out himself en route to earning his 6th save of the season and 12th of his career. He now sits in a three-way tie for the 7th-most saves in program history.

On the offensive end, hits were coming at a premium. Of UCF’s 6 hits, half of them came from 1B Nick Romano. One of them was a solo home run in the 4th inning that was his 5th of the season.

Lovelady called the game “a really good college baseball game” thanks to the pitcher’s duel that developed between Gomez and Maryland starter Jason Savacool.

“It really just came down to who was going to make the most mistakes and who was going to be able to get the big hits,” Lovelady said. “Both of the guys pitched out of some trouble, but I mean that’s what Friday night, big-time, college baseball games are supposed to be like.”

Game 2: Saturday Struggles Continue

Just as Fridays continue to be successes for the Knights, Saturdays continue to present challenges, as evidenced by the team’s 16-6 loss in Game 2.

In the first half of the game, things stayed pretty close. Starting pitcher Dom Stagliano, who was credited with his first loss of the season, gave up 6 runs on 7 hits in 4 innings. However, that was countered by a couple of 2-run home runs from CF John Rhys Plumlee and SS Drew Faurot which kept the Knights within striking distance.

However, once Stagliano exited the game, Maryland’s offense came alive. Over the next 4 innings, the Terrapins plated 10 runs on 11 hits. Meanwhile, the Knights could only get 2 runs on 5 hits.

It’s the 4th-straight Saturday that UCF has given up double-digit runs. The Knights have given up 65 total runs on Saturdays this season, accounting for 46% of all the runs scored against them.

Game 3: Too Little, Too Late

Despite a 9th-inning rally, the Knights dug a hole too big to escape from as they fell 8-6 in Game 3.

Lovelady said batters told him Maryland starter Kyle McCoy was “living on the corners and didn’t make any mistakes over the heart of the plate” as he pitched a shut-out into the 8th inning, only allowing 3 hits.

Once the UCF batters took on a new pitcher in the 9th inning, they pounced. UCF scored 6 runs on 5 hits, with most of those runs coming from a grand slam by Faurot.

However, the eight-run deficit proved too large to overcome.

As for the Knights, while SP Jacob Marlowe gave up 7 hits in 7 innings, he only allowed 3 runs and struck out 6 batters in his first weekend start.

“We’re better than what our record shows,” Marlowe said. “We know that we can hit, we know that we can pitch, we can do it all, but unfortunately our record’s not showing that.”

What’s Next?

On Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m., UCF will travel to Boca Raton to take on Florida Atlantic. The Owls defeated the Knights 13-3 in John Euliano Park last month and enter this matchup ranked No. 73 in the RPI Rankings. They also retain one of the nation’s top batters, UTL Nolan Schanuel.

Next weekend, the Knights begin their final conference-play slate as they host the War on I-4. South Florida may rank No. 152 in the RPI rankings, but they have turned the 10th-most double plays in the nation thus far this season. It will also mark the return to John Euliano Park for a pair of former Knights in OF Pablo Ruiz and 2B John Montes, who leads the Bulls with a .315 batting average.

Game 1 is slated for 6 p.m. on Friday.

Player of the Series

1B Nick Romano

Romano was the only UCF batter to get at least one hit in every game this weekend.

Play of the Series

2B Tom Josten makes a leaping grab to retire the side in Game 2