The No. 25 Miami Hurricanes continued to struggle Tuesday night, falling to UCF 9-2 for their fifth loss in their last six games.
UCF never trailed and scored two runs right off the bat in the first inning against Miami lefthander Danny Garcia. After the Knights loaded the bases, shortstop Tommy Watkins drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly and designated hitter Sam Tolleson followed that up with an RBI single to give UCF a 2-0 lead.
Miami (11-10) was able to cut the deficit in half in the third thanks to a wild pitch by starter Tanner Olson. Garrett Kennedy led off with a single and took second a passed ball by catcher Jordan Savinon and senior Dale Carey reached base on an infield single, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games in the process.
Both runners then advanced on a wild pitch from Olson and another wild pitch allowed Kennedy to score. Olson settled in from there though, pitching eight innings while holding Miami to two runs on just four hits while striking out four batters
“I don’t really think he was tough to hit, we were just getting under balls,” Zack Collins said. “Anyone in college baseball can catch a pop up. If we would have stayed on top and hit line drives and ground balls I think we would have done a lot better.”
The Knights on the other hand strung together hit after hit all night, tallying 15 in all for the game. UCF (10-12) increased its lead to 3-1 in the fourth on an RBI groundout by Erik Barber and knocked Garcia from the game after just four innings. Garcia threw 90 pitches while surrendering nine hits and striking out only two batters.
“I just wasn’t having my day...I just wasn't adjusting to my pitches and I basically couldn't throw strikes,” Garcia said.
Enrique Sosa took over for Garcia and threw a scoreless fifth before getting into trouble in the sixth. Miami’s defense committed two errors, a throwing error by Kennedy and a mishap by Brandon Lopez while trying to turn a double play, allowing UCF to score two more runs for a 5-1 lead.
It got worse for the Hurricanes in the seventh as the Knights tacked on two more runs off of AJ Salcines with RBI singles by JoMarcos Woods and Dylan Moore for a 7-1 advantage. Miami freshman Zack Collins hit a solo homerun in the bottom half of the inning to make it 7-2 before UCF added two more runs in the ninth to finish off the Hurricanes, handing Miami its fifth loss in its last six games.
“They gotta keep battling and work harder or fold up their tent and go home. You have two choices,” Miami coach Jim Morris said. “We have a lot of season left. We have a lot of young players that are talented along with our other guys. They gotta keep battling and make it happen.”
Miami’s next stop will be Fort Myers on Wednesday night for a clash with Florida Gulf Coast at 6:30 PM.