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Sunshine State Battles: UM Baseball Beats Gulf Coast 5-4 in 9th ... UCF vs. UM Hoops In Sunrise

UcfGeorge Richards here working the Canes beat tonight down at Mark Light Stadium as the Hurricanes baseball team tries to bounce back from losing two of three in Atlanta this past weekend.

Florida Gulf Coast, from, ahem, the Gulf Coast, is here.

This is the final non-conference regular season game of the season for Jim Morris' bunch as they close this weekend with Virginia before heading off to North Carolina for the ACC tournament.

Will have updates throughout tonight's game -- so check back.

-- In basketball news, the Canes just announced that they will play UCF in the annual Orange Bowl Classic at the Panthers arena in Sunrise on Dec. 18.

This is the 16th time in the event's 17 year history that the Hurricanes are taking part. Florida is scheduled to play Kansas State in the other half of the doubleheader.

Game times will be announced later, but expect the Canes to be the appetizer to the Gators-Wildcats at BankAtlantic Center.

Miami is 6-0 all time against the Orlando Knights, with the last meeting coming in 2002.

Donnie Jones will be in his first season with UCF when the two teams play. The Knights went 15-17 last year.

-- Here's what happened in the good old ball game:

The Miami baseball team's long home winning streak was almost snapped on Tuesday night. But by scoring twice in the ninth, the Hurricanes kept their run going for at least one more game.

David Villasuso and Frankie Ratcliff both had big ninth inning hits lifting UM to a 5-4 win over Florida Gulf Coast. The Hurricanes have won 17 straight at Mark Light Field.

With one out in the ninth and Zeke DeVoss at first, Villasuso – Miami's backup catcher – doubled off the wall in right allowing DeVoss to score the game-tying run.

“I thought it had a chance, but it hit off the wall,'' Villasuso said afterward. “You can't go for the fence, you just have to put the barrel on the ball. I was looking for a fastball and got it.''

Villasuso then moved to third on a wild pitch and was able to walk home when Ratcliff singled to right to end it.

“Every game right now is big because it has ramifications when it comes to the NCAA tournament,'' said coach Jim Morris, whose team lost two of three at Georgia Tech this past weekend. “I wasn't excited about our energy coming out, but I'm real excited about winning it in the ninth.''

Florida Gulf Coast, located about two hours northwest of Fort Lauderdale in Lee County, had rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth before Miami rallied.

UM (38-13) was cruising along until the top of the sixth when the Eagles (34-18) scored twice to cut Miami's lead to 3-2. Gulf Coast tied the score in the seventh on a sacrifice fly.

Luke Smierciak doubled to lead off the ninth and scored on an throwing error. Alex Lozada put down a perfect bunt along the third base line and UM's Harold Martinez rushed his throw. The ball ended up in foul territory – Smierciak ended up coming home with the go-ahead run.

Miami opened the scoring in the first when starting catcher Yasmani Grandal hit a two-out homer in the first. In the third, Ratcliff tripled and scored on Scott Lawson's grounder. Stephen Perez made it 3-0 in the fifth with a solo homer to right field.

The Hurricanes play host to top-ranked Virginia in the final series of the regular season starting on Thursday.

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