Baseball battles but falls to #25 UCF, 5-4

March 4, 2008

Box Score

ORLANDO, Fla. - A trio of freshmen pitchers stepped up in the face of adversity and the Dolphins scored in the first inning for the seventh consecutive game but a late run in the eighth sent the JU baseball team to a 5-4 loss to No. 25 UCF, Tuesday evening at Jay Bergman Field.

JU (6-1) suffered its first loss of the season but jumped out to an early lead in the first after tallying four consecutive hits.

UCF (8-0), off to its best start since 1996, rallied with a run in the bottom of the eight despite allowing the Dolphins to take lead with three costly errors.

With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Dwayne Bailey got some luck on his side to make up for a costly error in the seventh when he hit a slow dribbler up the first-base line towards a drawn in infield. The ball danced up the line and stayed fair to force sophomore Alex Martinez to grab the ball and tag him, allowing Robert Lara to score from third with one out.

"It always hurts to suffer your first loss but these are games that we have to learn from," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "These are the games that will prepare us for the weekend. We made some mistakes but I'm proud of the way that our freshmen pitchers handled themselves tonight and we will get back after it tomorrow."

Freshman Steve Eagerton (0-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing one run on one hit with a strikeout in 1.2 innings of relief. Freshman Sean Green got the no-decision in his first collegiate start after allowing three runs on four hits with five walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.

Austin Hudson (1-0) notched the win after one run (unearned) on one hit with three strikeouts in two innings of relief. Justin Weiss earned his second save after closing out the ninth inning. Mitch Houck settled down from his shaky start to notch a no-decision after allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in six inning of work.

JU, which has scored a run in the first inning in seven straight games, made it 2-0 in the top of the first inning by opening the game with four consecutive hits. Ferreira reached with a single off of Houck at the mound and then moved to second on a passed ball. Fleming followed with a double down the third-base line to score Ferreira before Myers hit a double to the left center gap to drive in Fleming.

Green pitched his way out of a jam in the bottom of the first inning when he was faced with bases loaded and two outs with power hitter Chris Duffy at the plate. Showing no signs of fear, Green powered his way to a swinging strikeout on four pitches to end the threat.

The Knight took advantage of two walks and an excuse me single to first to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second. UCF got an RBI groundout by Josh Siebenaler with the bases loaded and RBI singles from Dwayne Bailey and Colin Arnold. The Knights still threatened with the bases loaded but Green struck out Duffy swinging on three pitches to end the threat.

Green picked his way out of another threat in the bottom of the fifth with runners on second and third and two outs. With Robert Lara at the plate, Green got the swinging strikeout, his seventh of the night, to keep the Dolphins in the contest.

JU evened the game in the top of the sixth when the Dolphins took advantage of two errors by the Knights. With two outs, sophomore first baseman Alex Martinez hit a routine grounder to short but Shane Brown could not corral the throw at first. In the next at-bat, freshman designated hitter Chris Connelly hit a slow tapper in front of the mound. Houck fielded the ball but in his attempt to get the runner, his throw sailed into right field, allowing Martinez to score from first and even the score.

The Dolphins took a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh thanks to another error in the field by UCF. Sophomore second baseman Chuck Opachich led off the inning with a single and then advanced to second on a sacrifice by sophomore third baseman Tony Bernazard. After Opachich stole third base, Ferreira pulled a ball to a drawn in infield at second but Bailey had the ball squeeze out of his glove and trickle through his legs to allow Opachich to score.

UCF evened the score in the bottom of the seventh when Brown hit a solo home run to left field to lead off the inning. The Knights still threatened with a runner on second base and one out but freshman Steve Eagerton struck out Eric Kallstrom looking and junior catcher Jeremy Gillan gunned down pinch runner Nick Choto at third to end the inning.

JU and UCF will complete its home-and-home series at John Sessions Stadium on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The contest can be seen live through ASun.TV on JUDolphins.com.