Hurricanes run over Knights; 3rd straight loss to ranked foe

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Mary Stevens / Valencia Voice

UCF pitcher Ray Hanson went five strong innings Wednesday night, despite the Knights losing 3-2 to Miami.

UCF dropped its third consecutive one-run game to a ranked opponent as Miami came to Jay Bergman Field and beat the Knights 3-2, Wednesday night.

“All you can do is put yourself in position to have the winning run at the plate in the ninth,” said UCF head coach Terry Rooney. “Regardless of how you play early in the game, that’s all you can ask for in the ninth inning.”

UCF catcher Ryan Breen made back-to-back plays at the plate in the fourth inning, preventing two runs to score for Miami. Both throws came courtesy of right fielder Alex Friedrich.

Miami catcher Peter O’Brien attempted to run over Breen on the first play, and was later thrown out of the game, following a benches clearing- near brawl.

“I had the ball and I was waiting for him, and you know, he’s a big kid,” said Breen. “The rule is you have to slide in college baseball, and he didn’t slide.”

Starter Ray Hanson threw five strong innings, in only his second start of the season, since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him in the beginning of the season. Hanson allowed one unearned run on four hits, and struck out four Hurricanes.

“Back-to-back starts [Hanson] gave us five solid innings,” said Rooney. “He did exactly what you want your starter to do.”

Reliever Roman Madrid went 2.1 innings, and allowed one runner to score, on a freak double play in the top of the eighth. Closer Joe Rogers, who was on the mound to surrender Madrid’s lone run, struck out the side in the ninth inning.

UCF center fielder Ronnie Richardson, who was bumped down to the ninth spot in the lineup Sunday vs. UMass, went 3-3 with an RBI triple, in his return to the two-hole in the order.

“Ronnie is clutch,” said Rooney. “We put him down there for a game and just tried to mentally clear it a little bit, and obviously he had some big hits for us tonight.”

Knights’ first baseman D.J. Hicks had a disappointing evening, as he went 0-4, with three pop-outs, and an inning ending double play in the third.

Shortstop Darnell Sweeney, who had three errors in Sunday’s win against UMass (which lowered his fielding percentage to a team-low .904), had four flawless put outs by the second inning alone.

These two teams will rematch on April 4, in Miami.

Next up for the Knights is a three-game series against Harvard. Ben Lively is expected to start the series opener, Friday night. Lively is 3-0, with a 3.00 ERA, and 27 strikeouts in four starts on the season.

“I’m confident Ben is going to have a great bounce back game for us, Friday,” said Rooney.