ORLANDO — Top-ranked Florida’s five-game win streak came to an end Tuesday night, falling 9-7 to UCF.
UCF (9-3) took advantage of an uncharacteristic night on the mound from the Gators’ pitching staff. UF (12-2) gave up 10 walks — five of which scored — and 15 hits, both season highs.
“It was very uncharacteristic with how we’ve been pitching the whole year, obviously, we’d been averaging two runs (allowed) per game,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “For whatever reason we just weren’t able to finish innings. I believe all nine runs came with two outs. With that many walks, obviously we’re not going to be successful.
Wil Dalton took the first pitch of the game and sent if over the left field wall for an early 1-0 lead.
Florida added to the lead in the third. Nick Horvath started a rally with a single up the middle and took third on a successful hit-and-run with Nelson Maldonado. The left fielder bobbled the ball on Maldonado’s single, allowing Horvath to score on the play.
JJ Schwarz hit a two-out, RBI single to make it 3-0 before UCF stormed back in the bottom of the inning.
The Knights scored six runs on five hits in the third. Seven straight batters reached base with two outs as UCF knocked starter Jack Leftwich from the game.
In the fourth, a pair of walks by reliever Andrew Baker came back to bite him, as a two-out single from Ryan Osik added two more runs to the Knights’ lead.
Florida battled back with three runs in the sixth. Schwarz led off with a double and Jonathan India followed with a walk. Keenan Bell sent the first pitch he saw over the wall in right field for his third home run of the season to cut the deficit to two.
UCF picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth with yet another two-out RBI single. All nine of the Knights’ runs in the game came with two outs.
Nelson Maldonado hit his second home run of the season, a solo shot in the ninth inning.
“The positive is we fought offensively the entire night and we had a chance to get one more batter to the plate and have the tying run (at the plate),” O’Sullivan said.
Florida and UCF will play again today at 6 p.m. at McKethan Stadium.
Note: Schwarz’s RBI single in the third inning brought his career RBI total to 200. He ranks fourth in UF history, trailing only Preston Tucker (258), Brad Wilkerson (214) and Matt LaPorta (206).
Men’s golf: At Las Vegas, after ending day one with the lead, the Gators moved down to a tie for second at the Southern Highlands. Florida carded a 293 (+5) on day two but are still just one shot back of the leaders, TCU entering the third and final round of the event. Florida is 1-under with a 36-hole score of 575.
The Gators No. 1, Gordon Neale, moved up seven spots in round two after carding another 70 (-2). Neale is now in a four-way tie for second and enters the final day two shots back of the leader, Justin Suh from USC.
Freshmen John Axelsen and Won Jun Lee join Neale in the top 15 on the individual leaderboard. Lee was 1-over par Tuesday and is tied for eighth at 2-under par for the tournament.
Diving: At Knoxville, Tenn., sophomore Brooke Madden finished 10th in the 3-meter final with a score of 590.95, while freshman Emma Whitner finished 18th with a score of 546.35 on the second day of NCAA Zones.
Madden qualified for her second final of the meet, placing ninth in the 3-meter prelim with a score of 296.05. Whitner also punched her ticket to the final, finishing 18th with a score of 264.65.
Redshirt senior Dalton Goss placed 21st in the men’s 1-meter prelims, finishing just outside of the top 18 that move on to finals. Sophomore Alex Farrow recorded a score of 231.35 during the preliminary session, good for 29th overall.