UCF holds off Stony Brook in thriller

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.

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.