The Tulane Green Wave baseball team did everything it could to fend off elimination in the 2019 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship Friday night at Spectrum Field, but after falling behind early the team would not be able to keep the UCF Knights from scoring when it needed to in a 6-2 loss in Clearwater.
Tulane (32-26) cut into the UCF (36-21) lead on two occasions on the night, but every time the Green Wave got something going offensively the Knights would produce more runs to put enough room between the two sides that proved to be too much to overcome in the end.
Junior Kody Hoese finished the day going 2-for-4 with a double and RBI, followed by Sal Gozzo, who had a double and single among his two hits and two runs scored. Hudson Haskin drove in the other run for Tulane on the night, as the team finished with eight total hits.
Starter Chase Solsesky (6-4) pitched six innings and allowed four runs on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks to keep the game close. Brendan Celluc allowed two runs on three hits in an inning of work, striking out one and walking one.
UCF’s Jordan Spicer pitched the complete game, striking out six and walking one in the outing, as the offense produced nine hits paced by Matthew Mika’s 2-for-3 day with an RBI and run scored, followed by Tyler Osik’s 2-for-4 outing with a run scored. Anthony George drove in two on his only hit with a run scored.
The Knights got an RBI single to right in the first inning to go up 1-0 and in the bottom of the second Grant Matthews got a single to left to open the Tulane third. After an out, David Bedgood doubled down the line in right putting two in scoring position for Tulane. Unfortunately, a strikeout and fly out to center ended the threat.
Another single brought in a run for the Knights in the fourth, as in the fifth with two outs on the board Gozzo doubled to right center. Trevor Jensen drew a walk to put two on, as Hoese doubled to score Gozzo, but Jensen would be caught in a rundown getting tagged out at home to make the score 2-1 in favor of UCF.
The Knights, however, got a solo home run in the bottom half of the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the sixth to push the opposition lead to 4-1. Gozzo ripped his second hit of the day on a smoked single to right to open the Green Wave eighth and was followed by a single to left from Jensen to put two on.
After a strikeout, Haskin singled to left to plate Gozzo and cut the Knights lead to 4-2. Tulane was nearly out of the eighth after getting the first two of the frame in quick order, but a solo home run for UCF pushed the Knights lead back to three at 5-2. Consecutive singles and a wild pitch scored another UCF run to make it 6-2.
Tulane sports information contributed to this story.