No. 2 Florida falls at No. 9 UCF, 4-3

Number 2 Florida (10-2) traveled to Orlando on Tuesday night but came up short against No. 9 UCF (11-1), losing 4-3 to the Knights at Jay Bergman Field. In front the largest crowd in school history, UCF jumped out to a 4-1 lead with a pair of runs in the sixth inning and held back a late Gator rally for the one-run victory.

UCF got on the board first, scoring a pair of runs in the fourth inning. A sac fly by Tommy Williams scored Dylan Moore, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. James Vasquez later singled to score Erik Barber, who singled earlier in the inning.

The Gators got one run back in the fifth inning when Josh Tobias had an RBI groundout, scoring Harrison Bader from third.

The Knights had another two-run inning in the sixth as they put together a two-out rally, capped by a double from Williams to the left field wall that scored a pair of UCF runs.

Florida strung together a pair of two-out hits in the seventh to cut the deficit to one run. Ryan Larson, pinch hitting in the nine hole, worked a long at bat and stroked a single up the middle to put a pair of runners on for Dalton Guthrie. On the next pitch, Guthrie lined a double down the left field line, scoring Mike Rivera from second and Larson from first to bring the score to 4-3.

The Gators threatened again in the eighth inning, as Richie Martin and Bader drew back-to-back walks to start the inning. J.J. Schwarz hit a chopper up the middle that was nabbed by the second baseman, who got his glove on Bader and threw to first for a crucial double play. John Sternagel flew out to right field for the final out of the inning.

In the ninth, Larson drew a two-out walk to get on base, but UCF's Trent Thompson closed the door and picked up the save.

Postgame Quotes - Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan

On the game: "We made some miscues at first base, on a pickoff we miss a ball we should handle; it wasn't the best throw but it was certainly a ball we should catch. Then we have an idea that they're stealing and we pick over, but we don't attack the ball quite like we should and get rid of the ball with the urgency that we need. That's an important play, because he ended up scoring. Vasquez got a hit and that guy scored, that would have been the third out of the inning and we're still playing, or at least maybe bunting with first and second in the eighth. In that situation [in the eighth], we're on the road and JJ's been swinging a really good bat for us. We had a slash-and-run on and as soon as he hit it I thought it was going to be a hit because we thought the second baseman would be covering first with the first baseman breathing down [JJ's] neck. I thought for sure the second baseman would be going toward first, I don't know why he was still there toward the [second base] bag. It was kind of a weird play. If he vacates it and goes to cover first because the first baseman is charging, that ball gets through and we've got all kinds of action. Just one of those nights. We just didn't do enough to win the ball game. It's just that simple. UCF just played better."

On Bobby Poyner's performance: "I think he obviously wants back the 1-2 pitch to the leadoff guy in the fifth inning, but I thought he did a great job."

On the bullpen performance: "I'm looking for guys to be consistent. I think the most disappointing thing, other than the mental lapse at first base, was the way our guys came in and threw out of the pen. No one attacked; nobody threw quality strikes when they came out. It was three balls, three balls, three balls, fall behind the batter; never strike one. One of the key at bats the whole game was when we walked Barber [in the sixth inning]. We had two outs with a runner at first, not in any type of danger at that point, and we're missing to the wrong side of the plate with our fastball. We've just got to be able to throw strikes. We end up walking Barber then they run a slider down into the corner. If we don't walk Barber - at least make him earn his way on. There was nobody in scoring position. They're at a point now where they've got to come out of the pen and be ready to go."


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