Central Florida’s home opener marred by missed chances
The College of Central Florida’s Matthew Cedarburg (3) makes it safely to second base as Eastern Florida State College’s Garrett Evans (3) waits on the throw during the Patriot’s season home opener at the College of Central Florida in Ocala on Jan. 27. The Eastern Florida State College Titans won the game 8-5. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]
Central Florida scored just five runs despite totaling 13 hits and three walks against the Titans. The Patriots left 12 men on base in their 8-5 loss on Wednesday.
“Their pitchers did a good job of just not leaving pitches over the middle of the plate,” CF coach Marty Smith said. “We did not get the barrel on many balls. They did a good job of executing pitches, and teams are gonna beat us when they do that, that’s for sure. And we’re going to beat other teams when we do that.”
Former Boston Red Sox draft pick Mason Ronan started the game on the mound for Central Florida. Ronan was in hot water immediately, walking the first two batters he faced. He then balked, putting runners on second and third with no outs.
Ronan then allowed a single, scoring a run. He pitched his way out of the jam after that and cruised through the next two innings. Ronan pitched three innings total, allowing the one run on two hits and three walks with six strikeouts.
Ronan’s replacement, Jacksonville transfer Nick Love, didn’t fare as well. Love allowed five runs in three innings on four hits and two walks. One of those five runs came off a towering blast that shot over the tall fence in left field for a solo home run.
Against Love, the Titans scored five runs in the fifth and sixth innings combined. They added a couple of insurance runs in the top of the ninth to cement the win.
The closest the Patriots came to a comeback was in the eighth inning. Carlos Gonzalez singled before Patriot infielder Jackson Taylor – who connected for a solo bomb earlier in the game – hit an RBI double to bring Gonzalez home. But Central Florida mustered just one more run in the inning to make it 6-4.
CF was to face Palm Beach State College in a doubleheader on Saturday at home, but the games were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. The Patriots will take on Lake Sumter instead at 2 p.m.
“We’re gonna be fine,” Smith said. “We needed this. Some pitchers need to learn to keep it out of the plate. And, shoot, on the offensive side, I gotta tip my hat to their pitchers that really did a good job in keeping us off balance and hitting spots and not giving us good pitches to hit.”