No. 6 UCF Falls Short in Comeback Attempt


Cody Taylor / Valencia Voice

Shortstop Dylan Moore finished the game 1-3 with a home run and an RBI.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The sixth-ranked UCF Knights’ comeback attempt fell just short on Saturday afternoon as the Knights fell 7-5 to No. 15 Houston in front of 1,555 at Jay Bergman Field.

UCF (21-7) trailed Houston 6-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning before adding four runs to cut into the Cougars’ lead. The Knights forced Houston to go into their bullpen after singles by Erik Barber and Matt Diorio to open up the inning.

Catcher Logan Heiser’s RBI sacrifice fly to left field began the Knights’ rally to cut the lead to 6-2. After loading the bases, UCF got three more runs back on a bases-clearing double by JoMarcos Woods to center field.

“JoJo has done a great job for us,” UCF head coach Terry Rooney said. “He’s certainly swinging the bat as of late, doing a terrific job. That was a big at bat, got us right back in the mix. He’s doing a great job and he’s a competitor. His track record shows you that he’s going to find a way to get it done. He did a nice job for us and that was a big at bat.”

Cougars (18-8) starting pitcher Kyle Dowdy cruised through seven innings and held the nation’s top run-scoring offense in UCF to three runs (one earned) on seven hits. Dowdy (3-0) finished the game with three walks and three strikeouts.

“Overall we battled back; we’ve been doing that all year,” Rooney said. “Credit Houston – their starting pitcher did a terrific job and they played better than us. We talk about it all the time, we just got to play a little bit better and Houston played a little bit better than us. [Dowdy] just kept us off balance. [He] threw strikes [and] had a good down play on his ball. He did a really nice job, you got to give him credit.”

Knights starting pitcher Robby Howell (4-2) matched a season-high with seven innings pitched. Howell finished the game by allowing three runs while striking out four and walking one.

The two teams remained scoreless through the first four innings before Houston put up the game’s first run in the top of the fifth inning. Cougars shortstop Connor Wong started off the inning with a single up the middle of the infield and would eventually score after three consecutive bunts.

The Knights got their first run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning on a solo home run by senior short stop Dylan Moore.

Houston would take the lead for good in the sixth inning after Chris Iriart hit a two-run home run to put the Cougars up 3-1.

The win places both teams with one win and one loss after splitting the first two games to open up conference play in the American. Both team’s have yet to name a starting pitcher for Sunday’s rubber match.

First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Jay Bergman Field.