The UCF baseball team’s rally fell short, as the Knights lost to in-state opponent Miami Hurricanes 3-2 at home on Wednesday night.
It was a heavily anticipated matchup at John Euliano Park, as both teams entered the game ranked in the Top 15 in the polls.
The number of fans in attendance was 2,454, according to UCF Baseball’s Twitter.
“It’s good to see them in the top rankings, it’s been a little while,” said Shawn Moye, a fan in attendance.
UCF redshirt junior Jaylyn Whitehead took the mound for the Knights and went 2 2/3 innings. The left-handed pitcher gave up a single run in the top of the first inning after an RBI double off the bat of Hurricane’s first baseman Alex Toral.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Knights were able to put two runners on base, following back-to-back hit by pitches from Miami’s starting pitcher Alex McFarlane, but failed to bring home a run.
“We were just trying to get the big hit there and we were just unable to get it done,” said UCF head coach Greg Lovelady.
In the sixth inning, the Hurricanes jumped on UCF junior right-handed pitcher Jack Sinclair. Following a leadoff walk, Miami’s third baseman Raymond Gil got a hanging breaking ball and drove it to left field for a two-run home run.
“He hung a slider, when you face good players, that’s what they’re supposed to do,” Lovelady said. “Obviously I would have preferred there not be a runner on base because of a walk.”
In the bottom half of the seventh inning, UCF junior shortstop Noah Orlando led off with a double and would later score after back-to-back groundouts.
The Knights cut the deficit to just one in the eighth inning, with help from catcher Ben McCabe. The sophomore led off the inning with a double and was pinch-ran for by pitcher Joe Sheridan. Sheridan would score on an RBI single by first baseman Nick Romano.
The Knights would be set down in order in the ninth inning by Miami pitcher Daniel Federman, ending their six-game win streak, leaving them with a 15-3 record.
While they were able to score two runs late, the Knights offense struggled the majority of the ballgame, stranding a total of nine baserunners, four of those were men reached via a walk.
“[Miami was] able to take advantage of some of the things we did, and we were unable to take advantage of some of the things they did,” Lovelady said.
Collin Yeager, UCF’s assistant director of strategic communications, said the Knights’ upcoming weekend series against the Yale Bulldogs was canceled after presidents at the eight Ivy League institutions unanimously decided to cancel all of their spring sporting events.
“In accordance with the guidance of public health and medical professionals, several Ivy League institutions have announced that students will not return to campus after spring break, and classes will be held virtually during the semester,” according to a Wednesday news release from Yale Athletics. “Given this situation, it is not feasible for practice and competition to continue.”
Lovelady said that he has been in contact with Stetson University, whose baseball team was scheduled to take on the University of Pennsylvania this weekend, but that series was also cancelled following the Ivy League’s decision.
“We’ll do what we can to try to find some games,” Lovelady said after the game. “We’ll try to figure something out in the next 24 hours.”
Since the game, all American Athletic Conference spring sports have been suspended, according to a UCF Athletics news release.
This came after UCF interim President Thad Seymour Jr. announced Wednesday all courses would be moved to an online setting beginning Monday.
American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco announced Wednesday evening that the 2020 Air Force Reserve Men’s Basketball Championship — where the UCF men’s basketball team will face-off in the first game of the series on Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas — will limit attendance to student-athletes, coaches, essential personnel and media, and immediate family of the 12 competing teams, according to the news release.
“We and the Dickies Arena staff have been monitoring the COVID-19 virus situation in conjunction with local health authorities,” Aresco said in the release. “Our top priority is always the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, university administrators and personnel, media, event staff and fans.”
On Thursday, Aresco canceled the series.
Earlier Wednesday, NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement regarding his decision to host Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments with only essential staff and limited family attendance.
“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States,” Emmert said in the release. “This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.”
Following suit, the NCAA canceled all championship games on Thursday.
UCF athletic teams will be permitted to hold practices and team activities, according to the news release, but teams will not travel or participate in the competition.
“Refunds for fans who have purchased single game tickets to upcoming sporting events, beginning with the baseball games against Yale this weekend will be automatically refunded in the next 7-10 business days,” the release reads.
The release states the university will work with season ticket holders at the end of the regular season to discuss impacts and partial refunds.
Check back with Knight News for more developments.