This Week in UCF Baseball: Knights walk the Dogs

by | Feb 27, 2024 | 0 comments

Home E Baseball E This Week in UCF Baseball: Knights walk the Dogs

UCF sweeps Samford and takes down the U

Have a Knights Week!

A perfect second week of the season for the Knights, resulting in 43 runs scored in four victories that included a mid-week victory on Wednesday and a weekend sweep over two teams that made regional brackets last year. Mind you, two of those games ended early [7th inning Friday, Sunday] due to the Knights invoking the run-rule.

Rain was once again a factor over the weekend at John Euliano Park, causing a two-hour rain delay in Friday’s contest. This did not slow down the Knight bats, however, as the team scored more runs that game after the rain delay (11 over the span of the final four outs) than before (seven over the first 14 outs).

What do the players think about all this rain?

 “I kind of like the rain, I got a 30-minute nap in off of it.” – Andrew Sundean 

Recap of the Week

All Knights Wins!

Wednesday: 4-3 over Miami

Weekend: 18-3 [7], 9-6, 12-2 [7/walk-off] over Samford

The Good

Lots of good here to recap.

  • Pitching
    • The bullpen was spectacular on Wednesday, throwing seven innings of shutout ball against the Hurricanes while working around some … let’s say questionable replay reviews. Against Samford, the ‘pen struck out 13 while only walking one over 9 ⅓ innings.
    • Dom Castellano made his season debut Sunday, throwing four innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts in his start.
    • Dom Stagliano had 4 ⅔ innings in relief during the week (Wednesday & Sunday), picking up eight strikeouts while allowing just one run.
      • Worth a note that “Stags” was meant to be the Sunday starter in week 1. This may be interesting to watch as the season progresses.
  • Offense
    • 43 runs over just 29 ⅓ innings of swinging the bat – pretty good!
    • The team has been putting up solid at bats consistently, doing what they can to avoid putting up goose eggs on the scoreboard. Miami held them in check after the 4th on Wednesday, but over the weekend, only six of the possible 21 innings were the Knight bats held without a run.
  • Andrew
    • “Which one??” Yes!
      • All four Andrews on the team (Brait, Sundean, Williamson, and Estrella) made notable contributions during the week.
        • Brait – 6 hits, 6 RBI [HR Friday]
        • Sundean – 9 hits, 5 RBI [HR Sunday]
        • Williamson – Great defense including a phenomenal catch on Friday against the right field wall, along with some key hits [game-tying double Saturday in the 7th inning].
        • Estrella – 12 RBI in a three-game span is just ridiculous any way it gets sliced. Two grand slams over the weekend, including one that went approximately 460 feet on Saturday. He now leads the team in RBI with these performances.
      • All four home runs hit for the week were supplied by an Andrew!
  • Celebration
    • The Home Run BOOM is BACK! Hallelujah!

The Bad

  • Baserunning
    • If there is anything to nitpick about on the field, this would be it. Some unwise decisions running around the bases that cost the team a couple of runners during the weekend.
  • Broadcasts … or lack there-of
    • Off the field – fans unable to attend the game were left to stare at their screens as StatBroadcast and Twitter updated them throughout the weekend. A major gripe of the fanbase this season – no TV, no radio, just text formed by pixels for the entire weekend.

The Random

    • Friday saw the debut of The Four Andrews Lineup™, with Brait, Sundean, Williamson, and Estrella batting 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th respectively.
    • All four remained in the lineup for Saturday and Sunday, although Estrella moved down to 9th. From that spot, he did a whole lot of damage with the two grand slams mentioned previously.
  • Jack Zyska certainly met his step goal for the week, walking five times over the weekend.
  • Sunday was Bark at the Park! Many Good Boys™ and Good Girls™ blessed the ballpark with their presence.

Consistency is a big factor in winning ballgames. On the mound, the pitching staff walked just eight batters over the week while striking out 33. At the plate, Knight batters had just 16 strikeouts while walking 25 times – an approach that was highlighted as a major factor during the season preview which the team would need to improve upon from 2023.

“To [the offense’s] credit, they go up there with quality at-bat after quality at-bat and keep playing until they tell us we can’t play anymore, and that’s what they’re doing.” – Coach Rich Wallace 

This is best exemplified by how many runs were scored with two outs. Of those 43 runs scored during the week, 27 occurred when two outs were already up on the board, including all nine runs in Saturday’s affair. This does not include plays where the second out of the inning was made and a run scored on the same play, which produced four more runs.

The offense has been able to feed off each other and build on the success of those before them as they come up to the plate. This, in turn, helps the pitchers’ mentality on the bump, knowing they don’t necessarily have to be perfect.

“It takes a lot of pressure off … you know that you can just go out there, get ahead, attack the hitters, and worst case you give up a couple runs, the guys in the dugout are some of the best in the country.” – Dom Castellano

The Week Ahead

The Knights travel back down to South Florida [that’s actual South, not West-South, although that’s also relevant to this week] to face the FAU Owls on Tuesday at 6:30 PM [This game will be broadcast on FAU TV, for free]. Following this, the crew will come back home for a three-game set with the usf bulls [6pm Friday (ESPN+ / Big XII NOW), 6pm Saturday, 1pm Sunday (ESPN+ / Big XII NOW)].

Florida Atlantic University (4-2)

The Owls are playing their first season in the Knights’ former conference, the AAC. So far they have looked solid, getting a win over Vanderbilt in the first weekend [ranked #6 at the time by D1], then sweeping Towson over this past weekend allowing just three runs while racking up 29 of their own.

While FAU may not have some of their best hitters from last year, including Nolan Schanuel who went from being a student-athlete in May to a Major League player by mid-August, they should not be taken lightly at the plate, noted by the outburst of offense over the weekend.

Returning players John Schroeder [catcher] and Christian Adams [second base], along with newcomers Brando Leroux [shortstop, JuCo transfer, former Canadian Junior National member] and Emilio Gonzalez [so far DH, can play 1B, freshman] have all put up strong numbers to begin the 2024 campaign. Leroux has driven in 10, while Gonzalez and Schroeder have put up strong power numbers with four doubles each.

This will be the Owls’ first mid-week game of their 2024 schedule.

That Team Out West (4-2)

The War on I-4 is back and gets another go-around in baseball!

A bit of a sour taste was left in the mouths of many Knights and Knight fans last year, as the final time these two played was in the AAC tournament. UCF lost that game in just 8 innings with a 15-4 final, ultimately leading to a quick departure from the tournament with a loss in the next game.

Over the weekend, usf swept a four-game series against Marist, clocking in a score differential of 49 – 6. This has given them their four wins on the season to date, but that should not discount what they’ve done so far.


The bulls have many players to keep an eye on. Returning players John Montes (UCF traitor transfer) and Rafael Betancourt have started the season hot, each having a homer apiece while slugging nearly .700. Center fielder Jackson Mayo, not to be confused with the Rice pitcher with the same name (seriously, what are the odds of that? Two Jackson Mayo’s in college simultaneously?! It’s madness!), has also been hitting the ball well, leading the team with four extra-base hits on the young season.

Despite their slow starts, shortstop Eric Snow and second baseman Bobby Boser are another couple of players to keep an eye on. Snow led the team in batting average last year with an advanced all-fields approach while also hitting eight out of the yard, and Boser led them with 15 home runs while posting the team’s highest OPS at 1.066. 

The Knights will have to contend with the aggressive baserunning of usf, who has already stolen 13 bases on the year and been caught just three times. Pitchers will have to be sure to keep runners close to help their battery mates behind the dish. Overall, the weekend rotation will have to navigate some powerful bats and the defense will have to remain on their toes.


On the mound, the bulls have been borderline dominant. Over their first six games, they’ve allowed just 13 runs, five of which came against Indiana State who is currently undefeated at 7-0 and made it to a Super Regional last year.

Hunter Mink and Jack Cebert have started off well on the bump, combining for 20 innings, striking out 23 and allowing seven runs (four earned). Dominick Madonna and Matt Brown have each made a start and combined to allow just one run over eight innings, and out of the bullpen, Tanner Mink and Chandler Dorsey have each made three appearances, combining for eight innings, and striking out five.

That said, while the pitching staff in 46 innings has been able to record 47 strikeouts and keep the opposing averages down, they have been prone to allowing walks, giving up 24 free passes in that span. This may be where the Knights can take advantage by having a patient approach at the plate.

Before We See Them

“South” Florida will play 6-0 FSU on Tuesday, marking their first mid-week game of the season. This will give them a solid test to determine where they’re at as a team prior to heading to Orlando.

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.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *