UCF baseball lost its first game of the season to its first-ranked opponent, No. 22 Auburn Tigers, 4-1 in a defensive struggle on Friday night at John Euliano Park.
“When you go against a top 25 program — [a] big time SEC program — that’s not easy to do,” UCF head coach Greg Lovelady said. “I’m really proud of the guys.”
Both sides were on the top of their defense game as the Tigers and Knights only allowed 10 hits in total — five on each side.
The series kicked off with a pitchers' duel between UCF’s redshirt senior left-handed pitcher Grant Schuermann and Auburn’s sophomore right-handed pitcher Tanner Burns.
“We went toe to toe with them,” Lovelady said. “We were right there.”
The Tigers scored two of their runs in the top of the second inning when sophomore infielder Edouard Julien homered to the left center.
“[Grant] had one bad pitch," Lovelady said. "He threw one bad fastball down the middle, and you can’t do that.”
Auburn scored two runs off a double from freshman infielder Ryan Bliss that brought in junior infielder Rankin Woley in the top of the fourth inning. The Tigers' last run came in the top of the ninth inning.
Redshirt junior center fielder Ray Alejo had a major catch at the bottom of the eighth inning, helping UCF's defense keep the Knights in the game.
UCF missed several opportunities by having bases loaded twice and not getting any runs on the board.
“We left a lot of guys on base tonight,” Schuermann said.
The Knights' only run came at the end of the sixth inning when sophomore infielder Griffin Bernardo singled to the left center, giving senior infielder Matthew Mika the opportunity to run home.
“The worst thing about this game is we lost,” Lovelady said.
UCF junior right-handed pitcher Trevor Holloway is expected to get the start tomorrow. He had a shaky first outing against Siena last Saturday.
“He threw the ball really well the other day [in practice],” Schuermann said. “I think he’ll have a really good outing tomorrow.”
UCF's three-game series against Auburn continues on Saturday at John Euliano Park with the first pitch at 6 p.m.