The Miami Hurricanes won their fifth game in a row on Wednesday night, defeating the UCF Knights 16-10 to move to 36-12 (17-7 ACC) in 2022. The Hurricanes are entering their most important stretch of the season, with the win against UCF beginning a stretch of play where the Hurricanes will face Florida State, FGCU, and Notre Dame to end the regular season before the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
Wednesday’s game started with UCF taking a first inning lead. Gephry Pena led off the game with a triple and scored on an RBI-single. A fielder’s choice advanced a runner into scoring position, before another single put runners on the corners for UCF. A groundout put both runners in scoring position, and a two-run single from Andrew Sundean gave the Knights a 3-0 lead as they looked to defeat Miami for the second time this season and sweep the season series against the Hurricanes.
However, Miami responded with a rally in the bottom of the first inning. CJ Kayfus led off the game with a single before Edgardo Villegas was hit by a pitch to put two runners on base for the Hurricanes. A fielder’s choice and a lineout gave UCF the first two outs of the inning, but Jacob Burke hit an RBI-single to drive in the first run of the game for the Hurricanes. Dominic Pitelli followed with a walk to load the bases for Miami, before Zach Levenson hit a grand slam that gave the Hurricanes a 5-3 lead despite the turbulent top of the inning.
In the bottom of the second inning the Hurricanes added to the lead. Back-to-back walks and a single loaded the bases for the second consecutive inning, and a wild pitch scored the first run of the frame for Miami. A two-run Maxwell Romero single drove home a further two runs before an RBI-single from Dorian Gonzalez, who recently reentered the lineup after an injury, made the score 9-3.
An RBI-single from Tom Josten scored a run for UCF in the top of the third inning, but Miami added on another two runs in the bottom of the inning to add to the lead. CJ Kayfus opened the scoring in the inning with a solo home run, and Edgardo Villegas followed him by reaching base on a hit by pitch. Unfortunately, after the play Villegas had to leave the game, and hopefully he will be able to play in this weekend’s rivalry series against Florida State. Maxwell Romero took advantage of the run-scoring opportunity, hitting an RBI-single to drive in the 11th run of the game for Miami and earn his third RBI of the night.
Two RBI-singles reduced Miami’s lead to five in the top of the fourth inning, but another four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth again gave the Hurricanes a comfortable lead. Yohandy Morales opened the inning with a triple before Maxwell Romero added his fourth RBI of the night on a single to score Morales. A single advanced Romero to scoring position, and he scored on a Zach Levenson RBI-single to add another run in the inning for the Hurricanes. After a walk put two runners on base, a two-out, two-RBI single from CJ Kayfus, who was three for four with a walk and a hit by pitch on Wednesday, made the score 15-6 after five innings.
A three-run top of the seventh inning for UCF brought the game closer yet again as it headed into the late innings. Lex Boedicker led off the inning with a walk and scored on an RBI-double from Riley Walsh to score the first run of the seventh. Tom Josten followed with a two-run home run to make the score 15-9 and forced Miami to use Alejandro Torres and eventually Gage Ziehl out of the bullpen in the late innings.
UCF added a run in the top of the eighth with a Cole Russo solo home run, but in the bottom of the inning Miami responded with a run of their own, with Carlos Perez hitting an RBI-single to reextend the Hurricanes’ lead to six. Gage Ziehl entered the game for the top of the ninth inning, and after a single and an error, he retired the next three batters in order to finish off the victory for the Hurricanes.
Miami now enters their series against Florida State, who reentered the Top 25 at No.23 two weeks ago before moving up to No.21 this week, with an offense that has been dominant over the course of their recent five game winning streak. The Hurricanes opened the streak with 13 runs against Georgia Tech, before scoring 22, 16, and 6 runs over the weekend against North Dakota State before the 16 runs they scored on Wednesday night against UCF.
The Hurricanes will need to keep the offense working this weekend against one of the best pitching staffs in the ACC. Parker Messick will pitch Friday night for Florida State against Carson Palmquist in what will be one of the best pitching matchups around the country this weekend. Messick was last season’s ACC Pitcher of the Year, and he has continued that success into this season. Messick is 6-2 in 2022 with a 2.56 ERA, and his name is continuing to rise across draft boards ahead of this summer’s MLB Draft, as he is now ranked as the No.49 prospect in this year’s draft class. He is in position to move even higher in draft projections due to several recent injuries amongst the best pitchers in this season’s draft, and could be a projected first round pick by the beginning of the draft on July 17.
First pitch of Miami’s weekend series is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Friday night. Saturday and Sunday’s games are scheduled to be broadcast on the ACC Network and ESPNU respectively.