GAINESVILLE, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF baseball team matched No. 16 Florida step-for-step over six innings, but wasn’t able to sustain its momentum as the Gators scored four in the seventh en route to a 5-1 victory at McKethan Stadium on Tuesday night.
Florida only managed two hits in the deciding seventh frame, but the Knights (3-1) were done in by wildness from their bullpen, which issued five free passes in the inning. Junior Joe Marotta suffered his first loss as a Knight in 2/3 innings of work as he was charged with all four runs.
Making his first-career start as a Knight, junior Zach Rodgers was strong as he went 5+ innings while scattering five hits and allowing one earned run with two strikeouts. He kept the Florida offense off balance all evening by changing speeds and pounding the strike zone.
The Gators (3-1) struck first in the top of the first inning with a solo home run off the bat of Taylor Gushue. That long ball was the only blemish on the night for Rodgers.
UCF would finally breakthrough in the sixth and tie the game. Making his 2014 debut, junior JoMarcos Woods led off the frame with a single and was moved into scoring position on a sacrifice by junior Dylan Moore. With Woods at third and two outs, junior Tommy Williams hit a hot shot into the hole at short that was unable to be fielded cleanly by Florida and allowed Woods to scamper home to tie the game at 1-all.
In the following half-inning, the Gators loaded the bases without recording a hit on an error, walk and hit batter, but junior Parker Thomas induced a 6-4 fielder’s choice to end the threat. Overall, Thomas struck out two and walked one in his lone inning of work.
Redshirt freshman Jarrod Petree pitched a scoreless eighth in his first 2014 action as a Knight. The Apopka native missed nearly all of his rookie year due to injury.
The Knights will now return home to host the UCF Baseball Tournament beginning Friday at 7 p.m. versus Ohio State. UCF will also face Oklahoma on Saturday and The Citadel on Sunday in just its second home tournament since 1993.