In their last two games of February play, the Knights lost in a close 6-4 matchup against USF (2-5) despite a late inning surge on Tuesday, and again to Bethune Cookman (3-6) on Wednesday night, by a 6-0 deficit.
Tuesday’s loss came against a South Florida team who knocked around starter Brian Adkins for five runs by the fifth inning. The Bulls did the majority of their damage in the fourth inning, in which Adkins let loose a mistake pitch that hit left fielder Alex Mendez to lead off the rally. The Bulls then strung together a single, double, and RBI groundout to score three.
Despite being down by 6 runs headed into the bottom of the 7th, UCF was able to put a charge back into the offense when first baseman James Vasquez got the hits going with a solo shot to right field and DH Jeremy Matos blasted a towering drive of his own over the left field fence.
The two homeruns in the seventh were followed closely by Eric Hempe’s first four-bagger of the year in the eighth, another long shot to left field. The Knights were able to round up one more run in the inning on a Vasquez RBI single to center field, but couldn’t produce any more runs in the late innings.
Adkins was handed the loss after 4.2 innings pitched and allowing five runs on six hits while striking out two.
The Bethune Cookman game was a completely different monster, one in which the high-scoring Knights’ offense was shutout for the first time all season.
BCU starter Montana Durapau twirled a complete game gem against the Knights, allowing only four hits and no runs. It was the pitcher’s second consecutive complete game, making his handling of the Knights’ bats all the more impressive.
In contrast, UCF starter Eric Skoglund lasted only four innings while hitting two batters, walking one on balls, and allowing four runs on six hits. Skoglund is now 0-2 on the season with a 7.88 ERA and only 8 innings pitched, the only starting pitcher on the Knights roster yet to crack double digits in longevity.
Two of the hits for UCF came off the bat of third baseman Chris Taladay, who also managed a walk, failing to reach base only one time. Jeremy Matos and shortstop Tommy Williams added base knocks of their own, but the Knights were unable to get any kind of momentum going against Bethune Cookman, who won every aspect of the game.
The Knights will begin play in March with a weekend series at home against Winthrop (3-5), which kicks off Friday night at 6:30 pm at Jay Bergman Field.