When the number one ranked team in the country came to Jay Bergman Field Tuesday night, intimidation was one word head coach Terry Rooney did not have in his vocabulary as he addressed the press in his post-game interview after a 9-5 loss to the University of Florida.
“Intimidation? No," Rooney said. "Everybody has to realize something here. We have been ranked top-25 in the country four or five years in a row ... This is one of the best baseball programs in America. University of Florida is one of the best in the country. It's two programs that respect each other and play hard ... It's the old saying that you respect everyone, fear no one. We just have to keep getting better."
The Florida Gators wasted no time getting to work, scoring two runs in the first inning off a bases loaded situation that started with a single, and was followed by two consecutive walks. Sophomore right fielder Jeremy Vasquez then smacked a double to right field starting off an impressive display of offensive might that would carry over throughout the rest of the game.
The Knights would finally get on the board later in the third inning however, tying the game at three when junior first baseman Austin Griffin sent a ball up the middle of the field for a two-RBI single.
From there on, the Gators would control the game both offensively and defensively. Taking back the lead the very next inning, the Gators put up two runs off a bunt that scored a runner from third and then another run off a hard hit ball to the left field fence that freshman Matthew Mika barley missed.
"Florida did a nice job. They deserved to win and they played better than us," Rooney said. "But I'll tell you this. We made some good adjustments. It starts with our position players ... We got some great at-bats. To me the difference was that we gave them too much."
UCF would go on to make a total of five pitching changes throughout the game, starting with sophomore right-handed pitcher Andrew Deramo who only went three innings, allowing five runs on four walks and six hits.
Despite a rough third inning for junior right-handed pitcher Dane Dunning, the UF pitching staff threw exceptionally well striking out nine batters, only walking two and giving up seven hits.
The Knights, now 6-3, will travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Catcher Matt Diorio will be out for two to three weeks with a torn ligament in his thumb that he had surgically repaired on Friday.
Evan Abramson is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. You can follow him on Twitter at @Evan_Abramson and email him at EvanA@centralfloridafuture.com.