Knights Break Out the Cowboy Hats

by | Mar 19, 2024 | 0 comments

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Take 2 of 3 from Oklahoma State

UCF had a solid bounce-back week after being swept handily by the hands of the Sooners last weekend [who are now ranked 17th and 14th by D1 and Baseball America, respectively]. Two dominant wins, a thrilling finish, and a valiant comeback effort in a loss sums up week five for the Knights.

The bats got hot, the pitching rolled along (until Sunday’s contest, at any rate), and in the end, the Knights emerged with a winning week including capturing their first Big 12 win and series. For week 6, UCF will host a team they’ve played once before this year before heading out to Kansas for the weekend.

Recap of the Week


Stetson (7-1 W, Wed 3/13)


Oklahoma State [13-2 W, 4-3 W/wo, 10-16 L]

The Good

  • Boomin’ Business
    • 12 home runs over the four games for the Knights – doubled the season total to this point as the team now sits at 24 longballs in ’24.
      • Andrew Estrella (5), Jack Zyska (2, 3, 4), Andrew Williamson (3, 4), Andrew Sundean (3), Danny Neri (1, 2), Matt Prevesk (2), Matt Cedarburg (2), Lex Boedicker (1)
  • Run Prevention … before Sunday.
    • Six runs allowed [five earned] combined between the first three games of the week.
    • The starting pitchers in those three games combined for one walk over 17 innings, striking out 15 in the process. Important to limit the freebies!
  • Rocket Launch
    • Friday against the Cowboys. Space-U rides high once more!

The Bad

  • Sunday, of course.
    • Two large innings doomed the Knights in Sunday’s contest preventing a sweep. A 7-run 2nd and a 6-run 4thcovered 13 of the 16 runs allowed in the game.
    • The team did battle back valiantly, scoring 10 in the losing effort.
  • Defense still a little shaky.
    • After a five-error weekend in Norman, three more errors during the week with two leading directly to runs scoring. Fortunately for the Knights, neither impacted the result of the game much.

On Wednesday against the Stetson Hatters, Wiley Hartley made his first career start, going 5 ⅔ innings and allowing just two hits and one run, striking out six. Assuming he starts and does well this in this upcoming midweek outing, he will be in heavy consideration for the Sunday starter role going forward.

Spencer Bauer had himself a week, pitching four scoreless innings over three appearances, striking out seven. He even had a four-strikeout inning in Sunday’s contest, a rare occurrence in the sport.

“He was in complete control of everything he was doing (this week),” Rich Wallace said of Bauer. With his performances this week, Bauer is likely to see some higher leverage roles soon as the coaching staff hopes to get the bullpen sorted out.

Dom Stagliano moved into the Saturday role after starting on Sundays prior to this weekend. “Stags” allowed just three hits and one run over 5 ⅓ frames in a no-decision.

A couple players got on the board with homers this week in Lex Boedicker and Danny Neri.

“Glad to be back in the home run column,” Boedicker said on Friday. Lex went 4-for-5 that evening driving in 5 runs and came tantalizingly close to being 5-for-5 with two homers – his first at bat resulted in a flyout caught just shy of the wall in left-center field. He added a stolen base in the 5th inning of that game, taking advantage of an errant throw on a pickoff attempt. Boedicker is currently tied for the team lead with five stolen bases [Andrew Brait also has five].

After some recent struggles, Andrew Sundean turned things around Saturday night, smoking a double in the 2nd inning and a game-tying home run to right-center in the bottom of the 9th on a 96-mph fastball.

The Week Ahead

The Knights stay home for one more game on Tuesday against the FAU Owls [6 PM] before flying out to Lawrence, Kansas to face the Jayhawks [7 PM, 3 PM, 2 PM EST]. UCF faced Florida Atlantic three weeks ago down in Boca Raton, emerging victorious with an 11-6 game that was not as close as the score would indicate.

Tuesday will be a fun night on campus, as following the game against Florida Atlantic, the basketball team will be hosting That Team Out West™ for the first round of the NIT at 9 pm. This is the weekly reminder to Extend Johnny Dawkins!

            All games on ESPN+ – Big XII Now!

Florida Atlantic University Owls (12-6)

Common Opponents: Miami (6-4 Win)

Since dropping the game on February 27th to the Knights, FAU has gone 8-3, including a pair of games scoring at least 20 runs and a win over Miami last Tuesday.

As mentioned previously back in the Week 2 Recap, outfielder John Schroeder will be one to look out for as a threat in the Owl lineup. He got the scoring started in the first game between these two clubs with an RBI double in the first inning. Schroeder currently leads FAU in average, OPS, and RBI on the season.

Similarly mentioned before, second baseman Christian Adams has kept his bat hot, ranking second on the squad in average and OPS.

Being a midweek game, expect the Owls to do what they did in the prior contest, throwing a few pitchers out there for an inning or two at a time.

Kansas Jayhawks (10-8, 3-3 B12)

So far, the 2024 season has been a mixed bag for Kansas. A series win over Big XII favorites TCU, followed by a series loss against Cincinnati. Around that, losses to Washington State and Missouri with an opening-series loss to Illinois-Chicago may have some out in Lawrence a bit concerned about the kind of team they have.


Kansas boasts three pitchers with five starts currently, and all have an ERA below 2.60. Reese Dutton leads them with 29 strikeouts in 28 innings and has won four of his five starts. Dominic Voegle and Patrick Steitz round out the five-start trio of the Jayhawks.

While their earned run averages may be low, they appear to have been victims of some poor defense, something the Knights have taken advantage of this year more often. The pitching trio has combined to allow 34 runs, yet only 20 of them have been earned.


As it stands, Kansas has five hitters in their lineup with at least 70 plate appearances and an average above .300. This includes catcher Jake English, who leads the team in homers with 6 and walks with 20, compared to just 7 strikeouts.

Using the same threshold for plate appearances, second baseman Kodey Shojinaga leads the team with 17 RBI, a .346 average and 27 hits on the year, 10 for extra bases (7 doubles, 3 home runs). Former Knight infielder Michael Brookshas played well for the Jayhawks since transferring there after the 2022 season, currently slashing .302/.410/.476 with 2 home runs and 14 driven in.

Outfielder Lenny Ashby is another power threat, with 5 home runs thus far to go along with 3 doubles.

As a team, Kansas does not steal much. However, they certainly pick the right moments to go. They have yet to have a baserunner thrown out trying to steal in nine attempts on the year.

Before We See Them

The Jayhawks have a rematch with Missouri on Tuesday, a game played at the neutral site of Kauffman Stadium where the Kansas City Royals call home.


Weather may be an issue this weekend out in Lawrence, Kansas. As this is being written, the entire weekend is projecting some rain. Friday’s game being at 7 pm should be unaffected, but Saturday’s game may need to be moved up from the current scheduled start time of 3 pm.

A further concern is the temperatures. The Knights did not play well in the cold up in Norman, dealing with highs in the low to mid 50s. It looks to be a similar situation in Lawrence, with the high for the weekend sitting at 59 and potential game-time temperatures in the 40s.

Will the Knights be able to shake off the cold weather and gather some road wins? We can certainly hope so!

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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