Baseball gets revenge, wins in walk-off fashion against UCF

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

The University of North Florida Ospreys faced off with the University of Central Florida Knights in a baseball grudge match on Tuesday, taking the game 4-2 on a Jakob Runnels game-winning home run.

This was the second time these squads squared off this season, with the Knights taking the first meeting 10-3 earlier this month in Orlando. Limiting the high-powered UCF offense was something that the UNF rotation figured out this time around, allowing their bats to be the deciding factor in the ninth inning.

The first two innings went by without incident, but things opened up for both sides in the third. In the top half of the frame, UCF got on the board with a walk after the Ospreys worked themselves into a loaded jam on the basepath.

UNF was quick to respond, though, striking back in the bottom half of the inning on a wild pitch to even the game 1-1. Following the third inning, things went silent on the scoreboard. Pitching took over for both teams, shutting down the respective batters at the plate.

In addition to clutch pitching by UNF, the Knights plagued themselves during this period. Much like the Ospreys’ loss to Florida last week, UCF hindered their offensive attack by stranding 17 runners on base. This, in addition to nearly four scoreless innings from UNF senior pitcher Tony Roca, kept the Knights’ offense at bay. 

This was bound to come to an end, though, something that UCF outfielder Lex Boedicker took into his own hands. He sent a single into right field, giving the Knights a 2-1 edge with just three innings for the Ospreys to respond.

As the outs clicked away, it looked like the tying run might not come for UNF. The ninth inning arrived. If the Ospreys wanted to avenge the previous loss, they had to do it now.

Down to their last out, UNF flexed their clutch ability with a base hit by outfielder Austin Brinling. The Ospreys now had two runners on with one of their best hitters, Jakob Runnels, up to bat.

If there’s one thing a pitcher doesn’t want to do in this situation with someone like Runnels at the plate, it’s hanging an off-speed pitch. UCF closer Kyle Kramer did just that, misplacing a curveball that Runnels sent over the left field wall to win 4-2.

This is the first walk-off home run for the Ospreys in over a year, with the last instance courtesy of Aidan Sweatt in March of 2022 against South Florida. This improves UNF’s home record to a strong 11-5.

They will now shift their focus to an in-state ASUN showdown this weekend versus Stetson University. The Hatters are consistently one of the conference’s best, meaning a series win could propel the Ospreys with valuable confidence as they progress through the season.


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