UCF’s late rally isn’t enough, fall to FSU in midweek series opener


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Parker Thomas went 1.1 innings pitched out of the bullpen, giving up three runs on four hits.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Dylan Moore went 3-5 but the sixth-ranked UCF Knights pitching staff struggled as they fell 11-8 to the FSU Seminoles on Tuesday at Dick Howser Stadium.

The ‘Noles put up 11 runs on 11 hits through the first five innings including a three-run first inning which saw freshman Kyle Marsh struggle to find the strike zone early. Marsh would go just two innings and give up five runs — three of which were earned — on four hits, three walks and a hit batsman while striking out three.

UCF walked seven batters on Tuesday, with five of the seven batters who reached base on a walk eventually scoring.

“Collectively as a pitching staff we didn’t throw enough strikes,” said UCF head coach Terry Rooney. “I’m the pitching coach and that’s my responsibility so we need to change some things but that’s the one thing that if you look at our team just overall that’s what we need to do.”

UCF scored their first run of the game in the third inning and then single runs in the fourth and fifth innings before a two-run home run by JoMarcos Woods cut FSU’s lead to 11-5. The home run marked Woods’ first of the season and third of his career.

With Marsh only lasting two innings the Knights bullpen relied heavily on Spencer Davis to save arms as he went 4.2 innings pitched after Parker Thomas only went 1.1 in relief of Marsh.

“Spence (Spencer Davis) did a great job,” said Rooney following the game. “He gave up a couple of runs early and after that it was fantastic. He gave us a chance to win and that’s why I brought him in.”

Derrick Salberg finished the game with three RBIs while Kam Gellinger scored two runs and went 2-3 in his fourth start of the season.

The Knights added runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to cut the Florida State lead to 11-8 but it wasn’t enough to overcome the early deficit.

“I’m so proud of how they continued to fight and come back,” said Rooney about his team’s ability to comeback. “It’s a quality and a characteristic that they’ve shown all year, it’s not surprising they continue to battle.”

UCF hasn’t played well on the road (non neutral site) against ranked opponents this season as they’ve gone 0-2 while giving up 21 runs in those two outings. The Knights are 5-3 so far this season against ranked opponents.

With the loss UCF’s record falls to 14-3 for the season and the Knights fall to 29-6 all-time against FSU.

The Knights will return to Dick Howser Stadium on Wednesday at 4 p.m., where they will try to salvage a series split against the Seminoles (14-3). FSU will start senior left-hander Bryant Holtmann, while UCF did not name a stater for Wednesday.

“We just need to come out with a lot of energy,” said Salberg about what UCF needs to do to bounce back on Wednesday. “We need to score in the first couple of innings and not let them get all the momentum.”