AUBURN, Ala. - No. 9 Auburn scored a run in both the eighth and ninth innings, but the comeback effort ultimately fell short as the Tigers lost to UCF, 7-3, Saturday at Plainsman Park.
The first four batters in the bottom of the ninth reached to cut the UCF lead to four and bring the tying run to the plate. However, UCF closer Jeff Hakanson entered in relief and retired the next three to end the game.
"I liked that we kept competing in the ballgame, but it just seemed like for seven innings their pitching did a great job," head coach Butch Thompson said. "I tip my hat to UCF on the series. We'll come out tomorrow to battle."
Auburn (5-2) jumped out to an early lead for the second straight game as Ryan Bliss hit a RBI triple to center field to score Judd Ward in the bottom of the third inning.
UCF (6-1) answered with a two-run home run in the top of the fourth and added four runs on four hits in the sixth and one more in the seventh to extend the lead to 7-1.
The Tigers cut into the advantage on a sacrifice fly from Matt Scheffler in the eighth, marking his fourth straight game with a RBI. Bliss drove in another run in the ninth, but the Tigers left the bases loaded to end the game.
Jack Owen (1-1, 2.70) suffered the tough luck loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on one hit with one walk and five strikeouts in 5.0 innings.
UCF starter Trevor Holloway (2-0, 1.20) earned the win after throwing 5.0 innings and allowing one run on three hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.
The series finale is scheduled for tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT at Plainsman Park.