With the top-seeded Miami Hurricanes unexpectedly eliminated in two lopsided games, the team in next closest proximity, UCF, has taken ownership of the Coral Gables Regional.
The Knights even have a South Florida native leading the way, and the team had a fair amount of fans chanting “UCF, UCF” late in the game.
Darnell Sweeney, who played at Miami’s American High, lifted a three-run homer to right to help second-seeded UCF hold off No. 4 Stony Brook 9-8 on Saturday night.
Sweeney also made the final play of the night, handling a ground ball to shortstop and throwing out Kevin Krause with the potential tying run on second base.
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Stony Brook made two big rallies in the game. The Seawolves tied the score after trailing 5-0 and then fell behind 9-5 before making their final push with a three-run eighth.
With a runner on second and two out in the eighth, Stony Brook nearly took a 10-9 lead. Willie Carmona, who leads the team with 11 homers, drilled a long fly ball to right field, but Alex Friedrich caught it while crashing into the wall.
Besides Sweeney, the heroes for UCF were Jeramy Matos and Joe Rogers. Matos broke a 5-5 tie with a three-run homer in the sixth, and Rogers earned his 13th save by getting the final four outs, including two by strikeout.
With the win, UCF (45-15) advanced to Sunday’s 7 p.m. winner’s bracket game. Stony Brook (47-12) and No. 3 Missouri State (40-21) will play an elimination game Sunday at 2 p.m., with the winner having to beat UCF twice in a row to take the title.