It was deja vu all over again for the UCF Knights Baseball team as they lost two of three in their weekend series against the Troy Trojans.
It’s the second consecutive weekend the Knights have lost the last two games of the series after a Friday victory, which head coach Greg Lovelady said meant the team “didn’t learn enough” from last week’s series with Georgia Southern.
“We just gotta play better team baseball,” CF John Rhys Plumlee said. “Whether it’s pitching one day and hitting another day, we gotta be better and we will be better.”
Game 1: Power and Pitching
STARTED OFF THE SERIES RIGHT!!#ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/X5BwytoeUD— UCF Baseball (@UCF_Baseball) March 11, 2023
Starting pitcher Ruddy Gomez set new career highs with 7.2 innings pitched and 11 strikeouts en route to the 5-3 win in Game 1.
“I don’t need him to be superhuman,” Lovelady said. “I don’t need him to be anything other than just Ruddy. He’s really starting to settle in now and it was good to see him be himself tonight.”
On the offensive end, C Ben McCabe hit a solo home run to put the Knights up early, but Troy hit a 3-run home run the next inning to put them down 3-1. It took another homer from Plumlee and SS Drew Faurot scoring on a wild pitch to tie things up in the 5th.
LF Lex Boedicker put UCF up for good with a 2-run shot in the 6th inning.
Game 2: Deja Vu
That'll do it from JEP.— UCF Baseball (@UCF_Baseball) March 12, 2023
Exactly one week after UCF gave up 11 runs in the 1st inning to Georgia Southern, Troy racked up double-digit runs in the first frame.
Starting pitcher Chase Centala and reliever Jacob Marlowe combined to give up 10 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks while only getting one out in the 1st inning. The Knights fell in Game 2, 12-3.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that once, let alone twice in five games,” Lovelady said.
The Knights had better fortune out of the bullpen, as Nick Vieira entered the game and set new career highs by going 5.2 innings and striking out 6 batters. He allowed just one hit.
McCabe hit a pair of home runs to get him to 10 on the season and 40 for his career.
Game 3: Errors and Missed Opportunities
Final from JEP.— UCF Baseball (@UCF_Baseball) March 12, 2023
While the pitching improved in Game 3 on Sunday, 5 defensive errors and 9 runners left on base allowed Troy to squeak by with a 5-4 victory.
Starting pitcher Cameron Leiter got the 1st inning done early as he struck out the side. He ultimately pitched 4 innings, striking out 7 batters while allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks.
However, Troy would pick up two more unearned runs in the 7th inning. The game-winning run came thanks to two errors: a throwing error that allowed Trojan CF Kole Myers to score, and a highly controversial error from McCabe, who made the tag but dropped the ball well after the play.
Lovelady argued the call with the umpire to no avail.
Oh my god!— 11Point7: The College Baseball Podcast (@11point7) March 12, 2023
Troy has taken the lead over UCF after the ball was dropped by the catcher pic.twitter.com/xVKCRnUB06
While the Knights outhit Troy 11-7, it wasn’t enough.
“We had 9 guys left on, I felt like we had left 90 guys on,” Lovelady said.
The Knights will not have long to recover as Florida State, ranked No. 16 in the RPI, comes to Orlando for a two-game midweek set.
The Seminoles have preseason All-American SP Wyatt Crowell, who is 20th in the nation with a 0.87 ERA, and LF James Tibbs lll, who is 11th in the nation in runs per game.
First pitch is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday for Game 1, followed by Game 2 at 4 p.m. the next day.
Player of the Series
John Rhys Plumlee
Plumlee hit his 2nd and 3rd home runs of the season over the weekend.
Play of the Series
Ben McCabe becomes the 5th Knight ever to hit 40 career home runs
That’s 40 for 40‼️@BMcCabe_8 pic.twitter.com/bLg0TkR7qV— UCF Baseball (@UCF_Baseball) March 11, 2023