Trailing by nine runs, Miami baseball appeared to be on the verge of its first-ever road loss to in-state foe Central Florida, until it found a late spark.
But not even a ninth-inning grand slam moved the Hurricanes close enough to a win.
Sophomore first baseman CJ Kayfus’ only hit marked Miami’s first runs scored since the second, but the Hurricanes (11-5, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) dropped their first midweek matchup of the season to the UCF Knights 10-5 at John Euliano Park Wednesday.
“We played very poorly,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “Poor, poor pitches with two outs and guys on base. We played poor defense, making three errors. We left seven guys on base.”
A home run from freshman designated hitter Zach Levenson evened the game at one run apiece in the second.
Each team moved quickly through the third and fourth innings, scoring no runs on three hits total. Sophomore right-handed starter Jake Garland retired 12 of the Knights’ first 15 batters, with one run scoring as unearned in the opening frame.
But in the fifth, the Knights (12-5) capitalized once the Hurricanes turned to their bullpen and made two quick defensive mistakes.
Sophomore reliever Alejandro Rosario allowed two quick earned runs. A fielding error on outfielder Jacob Burke, followed by a one-out RBI groundout, broke the stalemate and gave UCF a 3-1 advantage after fifth.
“The first three runs they scored we gave to them,” DiMare said. “They opened it up, but it should’ve been a closer game. We have to play better.”
Rosario allowed a two-run single and a two-run home run to UCF third baseman Michael Brooks in the sixth.
Then, in the seventh, second baseman Tom Josten hit a three-run home run off redshirt junior reliever Jordan Dubberly, expanding the Knights’ lead to 10-1.
A scoreless eighth frame left the Hurricanes with one last chance for Kayfus’ second home run of the season and Miami’s 14th total.
Even after relinquishing a one-out single to freshman outfielder Edgardo Villegas, Zach Hunsicker, UCF’s sixth reliever of the game, struck out two straight batters.
With the loss, Miami fell to 23-9 in the all-time series and 2-1 in midweek matchups this year. Rosario (0-1) was hit with the loss, while Knights left-handed reliever Cylis Cox (1-0) earned his first-ever collegiate win. Cox only retired one UM batter to finish the fifth inning.
The Hurricanes committed three errors, totaling seven in their last four contests, and left eight runners on base.
“I just feel like we’ve been too inconsistent,” DiMare said. “We have to pitch better. We have to do a better job offensively, giving better at-bats. We have to play better defense, that’s the bottom line.”
UM will next travel to Clemson, South Carolina, for a three-game series versus the Clemson Tigers starting Friday night.