UCF – Rice series wrap up

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Sebastian Arbelaez

Rice starter Austin Kubitza kept the Owls in the series with his outing in game two.

The Knights fell short of Conference USA championship title hopes after losing to Rice 5-2 on Saturday. UCF may have lost the series to Rice, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. The Knights are far from done; they still have a post season to take care of.

The loss was not taken lightly by the players; many of them stayed in the dug out, some with their heads down, while others stared into the field.
With the team’s spirit down, head coach Terry Rooney had a message for them. “As disappointed as they are — and I get it and I understand it and I feel for them and I get it because they tried their hearts out — we will be a better team for playing this series today and in this environment,” Rooney said.

The Knights had numerous opportunities to score, but didn’t take advantage of them during the third game against Rice.

Rather than lacking the will to win, they just lacked converting hits into runs. Although mustering nine hits, the Knights left men on base in six of the nine innings, and went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

“We had opportunities for two out RBIs and unfortunately we didn’t do it,” Rooney said. “In a lot of ways, that’s how you win close games. You’ve got to get the two out RBIs.”

Starting pitcher Brian Adkins was quickly taken out of the game, after giving up three runs in 1.1 innings.

“[Adkins] fell behind too much, the ball was up in the zone and obviously we needed to get him out of there, he just didn’t have it,” Rooney said.
In the areas that Adkins struggled, reliever Bryan Brown excelled.

On the mound, Brown had three strikeouts, no walks, and two earned runs. Brown got a standing ovation from a crowd of 2,131 after pitching the longest outing of his career at 6.2 innings.

“Bryan Brown was awesome today. [He] threw this team on his shoulders. That is four years of hard work,” said Rooney.

The two runs produced by UCF weren’t enough to overcome the nine runs produced by Rice in Game Two. The Knights struggled on offense and defense throughout the game Friday night.

Sophomore Ben Lively exited Game Two after giving up five runs in 5.2 innings. Freshman Garrett Nuss took over until the eighth inning, where he was taken out after throwing two wild pitches that resulted in two runs.

Due to weather it took UCF almost 24 hours to beat Rice in Game One. The Knights exploded with an 8-0 lead but nearly blew it in the fifth inning by allowing six runs. The score would remain the same for the rest of the game, though, after Joe Rogers came in and sealed the deal for his 29th career save.