BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Knights fell short in their late rally against Florida Atlantic on the road Saturday, falling in game two of the series 20-15. Florida Atlantic made a couple of statement innings, but the UCF offense battled to stay in the game until the end.
Leading the Knights offensively, Ben McCabe had a career day at the plate, driving in eight runs on three hits with a home run and a double. Matt Archer went 2 for 5 on the day with a home run of his own and 4 RBI. Freshman Alex Freeland put up three hits, including his first homer as a Knight coming as a solo shot in the fourth.
UCF jumped out to an early lead in the second inning; with the bases juiced, Matt Archer punched a line drive into left field to drive in a pair. The Owls responded in the bottom half of the second inning with 12 runs of their own and tacked on another five runs in the fourth to take a 17-3 lead heading into the fifth.
The Black and Gold cut at the deficit throughout the game, scoring in four consecutive innings in the middle of the game. UCF scored three in the fifth and sixth innings of the game, thanks to a home run and a double to drive in five RBI by McCabe, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jordan Rathbone.
FAU plated three insurance runs in their half of the eighth, the Knights continued to battle into the ninth but it wouldn't be enough. Gephry Pena hit the first pitch he saw over the left field wall, followed up by a bases-clearing, three-RBI double from Ben McCabe.
FAU (2-0) – 20, UCF (0-2) – 15
Winning Pitcher: Adrien Reese (3.0 IP, 5 H, 5 K, 4 ER)
Losing Pitcher: Hunter Patteson (1.2 IP, 5 H, 1 K, 10 ER)
Top Hitters: Ben McCabe (3-5, 1 HR, 2 2B, 8 RBI), Alex Freeland (3-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI), Matt Archer (2-5, 1 HR 4 RBI), Josh Crouch (3-5, 3 runs)
Top Pitchers: Ben Vespi (2.2 IP, 2 H, 3 K 0 ER)
- UCF's 15 runs are the most since the Knights defeated Cincinnati on the road on Apr. 12, 2019.
- Ben McCabe's eight RBI performance is the most of his career. His previous career-high was 3 RBI vs. Bethune-Cookman, 5/7/19
- Ben McCabe, Alex Freeland, Matt Archer, and Gephry Pena all hit their first home runs of the 2021 season. Freeland's was the first of his collegiate career.
- Ben Vespi and Zack Bennett each made their first appearance as Knights. Vespi tossed 2.2 IP allowing one unearned run and striking out three; Bennett tossed 1.2 and allowed two earned runs in his debut.
- The two teams combined for a total of eight home runs on the night, four for each squad.
- With the loss, the Knights are now 89-35-1 all-time in opening weekend series
- The Knights still lead the all-time series vs. Florida Atlantic by a game, 38-37.
The Knights will wrap the three-game set with Florida Atlantic on Sunday at 1 p.m., before returning home to welcome another Florida foe, Stetson to John Euliano Park for the first mid-week contest of the spring. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
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