ORLANDO, FL– Siena Baseball (0-1) took one of the South’s premier baseball programs to the wire to begin it’s 2020 campaign, falling at the University of Central Florida (1-0), 2-1, Friday evening in Orlando, Florida. The contest marked the beginning of a four-game weekend set for the two squads, as well as Head Coach Tony Rossi’s 51st season at the helm of the program.
Starting it’s season against the Golden Knights in the Magic City for the seventh time in the last eight seasons, the Saints rode 4.2 scoreless innings from sophomore right-hander Mike McCully (0-1) before the home team broke onto the board.
Freshman Matt Archer batter in the first run of the season for UCF to get them on the board, sending in junior Nick Romano with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Knights plated an insurance run in the home half of the next frame to go up 2-0, with sophomore Tom Josten plating classmate Gephry Pena on an RBI groundout.
The Saints used the top of the seventh inning to climb back into the contest, with senior Zach Durfee closing the gap with an RBI single to center that sent transfer junior Pat O’Hare home for his first run as a Saint. Siena threatened to tie or lead multiple times late in the game, but stranded the bases loaded into the stretch and two more runners on in the top half of the eighth.
Following 6.1 four-hit innings from UCF winning pitcher Colton Gordon (1-0), redshirt-junior David Litchfield paved the way with 1.2 set-up frames for junior Jeffrey Hakanson to strike out the side in order in the top of the ninth and earn his first save of the season. Gordon would finish with 10 strikeouts without a walk on the night.
McCully took the loss on the mound for the Saints, going 5.1 innings and allowing just one earned run and one free pass while tossing six strikeouts. Junior Avery Short struck out a pair of Knights and walked one in 2.1 innings of relief.
Siena and UCF will be back in action with a single admission doubleheader to continue the weekend series on Saturday, February 15 at John Euliano Park. Game one is set for 2 PM, with the nightcap scheduled to begin 45 minutes following the conclusion of game one.