"A lot of positives came from the game. It starts on the mound by giving up three hits to the No. 1 team in the country," head coach Terry Rooney said. "I thought our guys pitched very well. One of the great things is that it was a collective effort; a lot of guys were out there doing a terrific job."
Juniors Trent Thompson, Drew Faintich, sophomore Eric Hepple and freshman Sam Crocker combined to limit Florida (9-1) to three hits, while notching eight strikeouts. The only earned run of the contest came from a solo homer to lead off the game by Dalton Guthrie.
The Knights (6-4) threatened in the first inning on a pair of two-out singles by sophomore Logan Heiser and junior Austin Griffin, but were unable to strike first. UCF scatted hits from juniors Ryan Crile, Luke Hamblin and freshman Matthew Mika throughout the remainder of the game.
The Gators capitalized on a pair of four-inning errors to score three runs, capped by a two-run homer from Mike Rivera. Jackson Kowar (1-0) earned the victory with eight strikeouts over five innings of work.
"The message tonight is that we are so close. We are right there," Rooney added. "We have to just put all the pieces of the puzzle together. We are very close to doing just that."
The Knights continue a stretch with eight of nine games on the road with a three-game set at Rice. The former Conference USA foes open the series on Friday at 7 p.m. ET and battle on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET before a 2 p.m. ET Sunday matinee.
UCF is back home on Mar. 11-13 against LIU Brooklyn. The series opener is set for 6:30 p.m. at the UCF Baseball Complex.