Big (XII) dreams come to an end for UCF Baseball

by | May 26, 2024 | 0 comments

Home E Baseball E Big (XII) dreams come to an end for UCF Baseball

Knights eliminated in semifinal rout

“A SEMIFINAL!!” – Mae Green, Ted Lasso®, Season 2, Episode 9.

The Cinderella Story in the Big XII tournament comes to a close for the Knights following a 10-1 drubbing at the hands of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who went on to defeat the Oklahoma Sooners for the Big XII tournament title.

With the way the tournament is formatted, despite entering the game undefeated in the tournament, the Knights found themselves in a win-or-go-home contest late Friday night. In another interesting aspect of this tournament format, the Knights found themselves once again being the “road” team for this neutral site setting.

Cowboys starting pitcher Brian Holiday got things rolling quickly, retiring the Knights on just 10 pitches including a three-pitch strikeout to begin the game, and he simply never looked back. Nor did the Cowboys as a whole.

In the bottom of the first against starter Wiley Hartley, left fielder Nolan Schubart started off the run-scoring barrage with a two-run home run that nestled a couple of rows deep in the right field seats. The bottom of the second saw a pair of extra-base hits in and around the left field corner to bring in two more.

Through four top-halves, the Knights had thus far mustered just two hits compared to four strikeouts and three hit batters, Danny Neri being the unfortunate recipient of two of them, and four in the two games against the Cowboys. Despite the lack of hits, the Knights did have opportunities, and Holiday simply made sure they were squandered.

“That guy is in complete control of everything he does, he’s on the attack at all times with four pitches at any time … that’s an elite college pitcher when you mix in the competitiveness he has as well,” Rich Wallace said post-game of Brian Holiday.

The bottom of the fourth started with a pitching change for the Knights as Chase Centala entered the game. Despite making some good pitches to the first batter he faced, some defensive miscommunication and poor positioning resulted in an infield single, and things simply spiraled after that for Chase.

After a soft groundout and a balk moved that runner to third, an RBI single to left followed by a hit batter on a 2-2 count and a walk loaded the bases. Aiming to keep the game within reach, Wallace went back out to make another change and brought in Kris Sosnowski.

Despite no hard contact allowed in this inning, Sosnowski allowed all three inherited runners to score on another soft groundout and a jammed shot single into shallow right by Nolan Schubart, who moved up to four RBI in the game with this hit.

Sosnowski rolled along for the next two innings, keeping the Cowboys at eight runs, and Danny Neri was able to get the Knights on the board with what ultimately ended up being the only run the team would score in the game with an RBI double into the right field corner.

Cowboys right fielder Carson Benge hit his second home run in two days against the Knights to start the seventh, after which point Sosnowski was lifted to cap his outing at 2 ⅔ innings. Kyle Kramer entered and got a pair of outs before his control eluded him, hitting a batter and walking the next, giving way to Tyler Kozera to try and wrap up the inning.

Kozera did induce a popout to end the seventh and did look strong in the eighth despite giving up a lead-off double. After recording a pair of strikeouts on just seven pitches over the next two batters, Benge took the first offering he got from Kozera into left field for an RBI single, expanding the Cowboy lead to the eventual final tally of 10-1. Kozera did end the inning with another strikeout to give him three in his 1 ⅓ innings.

On the mound for OSU, Brian Holiday simply cruised along after the Neri RBI double. He allowed just three hits the rest of the way and finished off an impressive complete game performance with seven strikeouts and just the one run allowed, shutting the door on the Knights’ hopes of a first-year Big XII tournament title.


The Knights now will head home and wait with the rest of us to see where they will play next. Barring something completely unforeseen, UCF will find out on Memorial Day Monday sometime between noon and 1 PM (ESPN) when and where they will be playing for their first Regional appearance since 2017.

Regionals will begin on Friday, May 31st (or Saturday, June 1st, depending on the brackets) and will conclude on either that Sunday or Monday pending results of the games.

As a quick refresher, the Regionals are split into 16 four-team groups with double elimination rules in play, with one team moving on from each bracket into a Super Regional matchup, a best-of-three series between two teams the weekend after the Regionals finish up.

Once Regional play begins, the Knights are hoping to do something no UCF squad has done up to this point and move on to a Super Regional. Three times (2000, 2002, 2012) the Knights have started off 2-0 in a Regional with a chance to punch a ticket to a Super with just one more victory, and once more (2004) they found themselves on the doorstep after forcing a winner-take-all matchup with FSU. In all four instances, however, the team simply could not push their way into that final win.

We look towards Monday to see who will stand in the Knights way at a chance of going further than ever in postseason ball. Until then, enjoy some rest. Those who stayed up to watch the three games UCF played this week in the Big XII tournament have more than earned that rest.

Go Knights, and Charge On!

About Michael Theed
Michael is a 2019 UCF Grad (Bachelors, Civil Engineering) who follows the Miami Marlins & Dolphins. You can find him on Twitter @Mptness4 regularly tweeting about UCF Baseball.


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