FSU baseball losing streak extended to three games in Wednesday loss at UCF

The Florida State baseball offense couldn’t break out of its funk Wednesday.

The Seminole bats were again stifled for the second straight day Wednesday at UCF. No. 21 FSU (11-6, 2-1) scored just three runs in a 6-3 loss to the Knights (12-5) in Orlando.

FSU was outscored 20-7 over its two-game sweep at the hands of UCF. The Seminoles have now lost three straight games after they lost just three of their first 14 games this season.

After Tuesday’s 14-3 loss, the second game of the midweek series was more competitive as the Seminoles had more chances with eight hits and four UCF errors. However, FSU was a very unproductive 2 for 13 (.154) at the plate with runners on base.

There was no bigger squandered chance for the Seminoles than in the fourth inning. With FSU trailing 1-0, Jaime Ferrer got into scoring position with no outs after a leadoff single and advancing to second base on a throwing error by the first baseman. However, the next three FSU batters struck out, not allowing him to advance any further.

UCF, which had also wasted a few prime scoring chances in the opening innings, didn’t miss its opportunity in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Knights plated five runs in the fourth — the difference in Wednesday’s game and then some — on an impressive streak of six consecutive singles, all of which came with two outs.

With Wednesday’s three-run output, FSU has now failed to score more than six runs in each of its last five games. This after the Seminoles scored 10-plus runs in eight of their first 12 games this season.

Much of the heavy offensive lifting in Wednesday’s loss was done by leadoff hitter Treyton Rank and first baseman James Tibbs III. They each had three hits, accounting for six of FSU’s _ hits, and they also each had one of FSU’s two extra-base hits in the game.

Rank tripled in the seventh inning and Tibbs hit his team-high sixth homer of the season in the eighth inning.

FSU pitching staff pieces it together

With this being FSU’s only five-game week of the regular season and Link Jarrett talking a few times about his team’s “razor-thin” pitching depth, management of the bullpen was crucial in this second midweek game.

FSU turned to freshman Ryan Denison for his first career start against the Knights. Denison was effective enough, allowing one earned run over his 2.2 innings of work, striking out three UCF batters.

He allowed the bases to be loaded in the third inning, but Connor Whittaker was able to get out of the jam with a groundout, stranding the bases loaded.

Denison lowered his earned run average to 3.97 in his first career start, but was still assessed his third loss of the season, falling to 1-3.

While Whittaker was able to get out of the jam he inherited, he couldn’t pull off a repeat act the following inning, allowing each of the final five runs UCF scored, all earned, in that fateful fourth inning.

While FSU was assessed just one error in the loss, that tally could have been quite a few higher with a different scorekeeper. There were a few could-be errors which were ruled hits which hurt Whittaker’s cause in the fourth inning.

The leadoff batter in the frame reached base on a flyball that was dropped by Lance Trippel in left field. Three of the runs came in on a bases-loaded single by Andrew Sundean which appeared to be a routine flyball but drifted away from Rank due to wind and fell to the ground.

David Barrett pitched three scoreless innings of relief after that and Joe Charles pitched a scoreless eighth inning in his first appearance in over a season as he returns from undergoing Tommy John surgery.

While Denison threw 55 pitches and Barrett threw 43, the rest of the FSU staff should be available for the start of the weekend series against Boston College, which begins Friday at 6 p.m.

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