Pitching Shines Down Stretch as UCF Pulls Out 4-3 Win at Miami

by James Warnick

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Matt Prevesk delivered the go-ahead two-run single in the fourth inning and the UCF bullpen didn’t allow a run over the final six innings, as the Black and Gold held on to defeat Miami 4-3 on Wednesday evening at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.

Five Knight (2-0) relievers combined to surrender just two hits and no runs while striking out eight over the final six-plus innings en route to helping the Black and Gold lock up the in-state victory. Kyle Kramer was awarded his first win of the season (1-0), while Chase Centala came on with one out in the ninth to earn his second save.

“It started off a little rocky, but Boxrucker settled in and battled in his first start in our uniform,” head coach Rich Wallace said. “It was a big spot for Kramer to come in and do what he did and then for Stagliano to keep us going and for Victor, Galvan, and Centala to finish things off was exactly how we had it planned out. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better pitching performance.”

Trailing 2-0 in the third, AJ Nessler and Prevesk recorded back-to-back hits to both move into scoring position with one away. The senior Andrew Brait then delivered a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in Nessler and cut the deficit in half at 2-1.

The Hurricanes (3-1) answered with a run in the last of the third to extend their lead to 3-1, but back struck the Knights with three runs in the fourth to take the lead for good at 4-3. After loading the bases thanks to a pair of singles and a walk, Andrew Sundean then scored from third on a wild pitch to make it a one-run game at 3-2. Again, with the bases loaded and two away, Prevesk dropped in what proved to be the winning hit with a clutch two-run single to left to score Mikey Kluska and Danny Neri to give the Knights the 4-3 advantage.  

Dom Stagliano then came on for the Black and Gold and pitched out of jam in the fourth with an inning-ending strikeout and followed by retiring the side in order in the fifth to keep it a 4-3 Knight advantage. Miami countered by loading the bases in the last of the sixth, but Najer Victor came on and retired Lucas Costello with a lineout to center to end the threat.

The Knight bullpen continued to shine, as Victor retired the side in order in the seventh and Alex Galvan came on in the eighth and mowed the ‘Canes down in order which included a pair of strikeouts to send the game to the ninth with UCF holding to the 4-3 advantage.

UCF looked for some insurance in the top of the ninth by getting two runners into scoring position with two away, but UM managed to escape the jam with an inning-ending lineout to center off the bat of Brait.

Still holding to the one-run lead in the last of the ninth, Galvan continued to look strong as he struck out the first two batters he faced but UM’s Edgardo Villegas managed to reach on the second strikeout as the ball went to the backstop to put the tying run aboard with one away. Chase Centala then came on, and after allowing a single to right to put runners on the corners, drew a game-ending 6-3 double play off the bat of Daniel Cuvet to end the ballgame.

Prevesk led the Black and Gold offensively by going 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a double, while Sundean went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Brait also drove in a run on the evening for the Knights.

The Knights will now return home to welcome Samford to town for a three-game series. The series will run Friday to Sunday at John Euliano Park. Friday’s series opener is set for 6 p.m.