ORLANDO -- The UConn baseball team scored first but could not hold its early lead in a 5-1 setback at UCF on Sunday at Jay Bergman Field. The Huskies, winners of the first two games of the weekend series with the nationally-ranked Knights, fall to 22-13 on the year and 5-4 in the American Athletic Conference. The Knights improve to 25-12 and 4-5 in league action after avoiding the sweep.
Max McDowell (North Huntingdon, Pa.) led the Husky offense with a 2-for-3 day, as UConn could only muster five hits on the afternoon. Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.) reached base twice and drove in UConn's lone run in the setback.
Jordan Tabakman (Pompton Plains, N.J.) started for the Huskies and was tagged for five runs on 11 hits in 3.1 innings, walking one and striking out three. Zach Rodgers took the ball for the Knights and went the distance, allowing a run on five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.
The Huskies manufactured a run in the first to score in the opening frame for the third straight day, taking an early 1-0 lead. Jack Sundberg (Mansfield, Conn.) singled and moved to second on a passed ball, going to third on a balk before he scored on a Melley sacrifice fly. The Knights responded to tie it up in their half of the first, getting a runner in scoring position after an error before an RBI bloop single.
UCF took the lead for the first time in the series in the bottom of the third, getting a runner to third on a balk and a wild pitch before a single to left center that made it 2-1. The Knights tacked on three more in the bottom of the fourth to chase Tabakman, going up 5-1 before Devin Over (Windsor, Conn.) came on and worked out of a jam.
Over remained on for a scoreless bottom of the fifth, before Trevor Holmes (Ashland, Mass.) entered and set the Knights down in order in both the sixth and seventh innings to keep it a four-run game. Max Slade (Cheshire, Conn.) threw a clean eighth for the Huskies with the aid of a pair of baserunners caught stealing by McDowell, but the Huskies couldn't muster a run off Rodgers in the ninth and dropped the series finale.
Up next, the Huskies return to New England for a pair of midweek contests with regional foes. First up is a trip Fairfield on Tuesday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m. before the Huskies trek to Rhode Island to battle Bryant on Wendesday, April 15 at 3 p.m.
UConn is now 4-4 all-time against UCF
Vinny Siena singled to extend his reached-base streak to 26 games
The Husky bullpen tossed 4.2 scoreless innings and did not allow a hit
UConn lost for the first time this year when scoring in the first inning (12-1)
Max McDowell recorded his 14th multi-hit game, second on the squad behind Siena's 16