UCF Baseball CHIPs away with wins over Central Michigan

by | Apr 23, 2024 | 0 comments

Home E Baseball E UCF Baseball CHIPs away with wins over Central Michigan

Knights need to keep momentum going

After a frustrating week full of close losses, the Knights entered Week 10 with the lightest portion of the schedule ahead of them needing a strong bounce-back run.

With the North Florida Ospreys and Central Michigan Chippewas starting the first half of an eight-game homestand at The John™, the Knights looked to get back to their winning ways without the worry of conference competition.

As stated last week, this week needed to be perfect. So, what happened?

Recap of the Week


UNF (10-3 W, Tuesday 4/16)


CMU (0-2 L, 17-2 W, 23-3 W/7 inning run-rule)

The Good

  • Offensive Explosions
    • In three of the four games in the week, the Knights reached double-digit runs, including scoring 23 in only six innings of offense on Sunday.
    • In Sunday’s contest, the team tied the school record both for home runs in a game and home runs in one inning with 8 and 4 respectively.
      • The eight home runs were hit by eight different players! Talk about spreading the wealth.
  • Phenomenal Pitching
    • Starting with Tyler Nesbitt providing his best start of the year on Tuesday night, the Knight pitching staff combined to allow just 10 runs on the week.
    • The starting pitchers compiled 19 ⅔ innings allowing 18 hits while striking out 16 and walking only 5 in that span.
    • The bullpen over the remaining 14 ⅓ innings struck out 19 allowing 6 hits, 5 walks, and 4 runs.
  • A Fun Debut
    • Freshman Tyler Kozera made his collegiate debut Saturday night on the mound, entering the game in the 8th and finishing off the 17-2 victory with two scoreless innings including a strikeout on a fastball that touched 96 mph (verified by the Analytics team).
    • “That’s a special arm, and we knew that in the fall.” – Coach Rich Wallace. Expect to see some more outings from Kozera this year as the season progresses.

The Bad

  • Imperfect Week
    • Friday’s loss marked the first time this season that the Knights were unable to push across a single run. It is hard to determine what caused the Knights bats to go cold on a warm evening, but a shoutout to Ben Vitas of the Chippewas, who threw 133 pitches in a complete game effort. Sometimes, The Spirit of Roy Halladay™ decides to bless a random pitcher somewhere in the world and on that night, it happened to be Ben Vitas.
  • Defense Shaky
    • While the bats and pitching made up for any defensive miscues, the defense did make six errors during the week, leading to a pair of unearned runs on the statsheets.

Injury Updates

  • Andrew Sundean
    • Some great news as Rich Wallace mentioned that Andrew Sundean has been taking batting practice of late and may be ready to go as soon as this coming weekend against Cincinnati.
  • Alex Galvan
    • On the flip side, reliever Alex Galvan has been deemed out for the year after the team received a second opinion on his elbow.
  • Wiley Hartley
    • After an oblique injury against Kansas State a couple weeks ago, Wiley Hartley is on the mend and may be back in a couple weeks.

While the week was not perfect, a major bounce-back for the Knights as the squad put 50 runs on the board effectively in just three games. Of course, the one game they were unable to score does leave a bit of a sour taste in the team’s mouth, yet the ability of the team to respond as they did will speak volumes going forward.

“Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher,” as Coach Wallace says. While Ben Vespi did not necessarily have a poor outing in Friday’s loss, Dom Stagliano became just the second UCF starter to reach 7 innings in an outing this season, giving the Knights a much-needed lengthy outing while the offense did their thing.

In the series win over the weekend, shortstop Mikey Kluska hit his first two home runs of the season and second baseman Braden Calise factored into the home run party on Sunday with his first of the year. Jack Zyska and Andrew Estrella remain tied at the top with 7 on the year, with both going deep on Sunday.

“I think it shows how good our offense is and can be,” stated outfielder Matt Prevesk after Sunday’s game went final. Prevesk was one of the eight who hit home runs that day.

The Week Ahead

The second half of the eight-game homestand commences with the midweek game against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles and a return to conference play with a familiar foe in the Cincinnati Bearcats.

While the weekend series will be on ESPN+ for its entirety, the FGCU midweek will only be a radio broadcast.

Typical start times for the week – 6 PM midweek and 6/6/1 for the weekend.

Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (19-19)

Common Opponents:

  • Bethune-Cookman (2-1 series win)
  • Miami (12-10 win)
  • Perpetual War on I-4™ Losers (3-2, 7-5 wins)
  • Stetson (2-1 series win)

The Eagles are coming off a tough weekend dropping a series to conference-mates Austin Peay (23-16) after winning their Friday game. April overall has been a solid month for FGCU, sitting at 7-5 in their 12 games spanning the month.

As is typical with many teams’ approach to midweek games, the Eagles will likely use a variety of pitchers in this game against the Knights, who will need to be ready to adjust quickly.

Offensively, UCF will have to keep an eye out for outfielder Ian Farrow, who leads the Eagles with 13 home runs on the year and boasts an incredible .416/.563/.931 slash line [1.494 OPS] on the year. All figures lead FGCU’s hitters.

Freshman designated hitter Evan Dempsey has shown a strong ability to put the ball in play, slashing .343/.437/.509 on the year, with the batting average figure following only Farrow on the squad and his OBP and slugging rank 3rd and 4threspectively.

Shortstop Jacob Lojewski paces the team in RBI with 34 and flashed a fair amount of power last year when he hit 18 home runs. He also leads the team in doubles with 15, the only member of the team currently in double digits for that category.

Cincinnati Bearcats (23-18, 9-9 BXII)

Common Opponents:

  • Jacksonville (0-2 series sweep)
  • Kansas State (1-2 series loss)
  • Kansas (2-1 series win)
  • Oklahoma State (0-3 series sweep)

Hey, haven’t we seen you somewhere before?

The Knights and Bearcats entered the Big XII together this year, along with Houston, from the American Athletic Conference. Thus far, both squads have fared similarly against the increased competition, with Cincinnati just a game ahead of UCF in the conference standings.

Cinci has had an interesting go of things lately in conference play, dropping a series to Baylor, sweeping TCU, being swept by Oklahoma State, and taking the series against Houston this prior weekend. Look for the Bearcats to be well-rested entering the weekend as they do not have a midweek contest on their schedule.


The discussion of the Bearcat Bats begins with infielders Josh KrossTommy O’Connor, and Kerrington Cross (not to be confused with the WWE Superstar Karrion Kross, or teammate Josh Kross).

Kross leads the Bearcats in multiple categories with the aluminum including slugging (.621), OPS (1.047), hits (51), doubles (10), home runs (13), RBI (53), and times hit by pitch (15). After transferring from Eastern Michigan, the switch-hitting first baseman been able to find ways to produce runs at an incredible pace for the squad.

O’Connor is right behind Kross in the OPS department (1.014) and sits in second in home runs (11) and RBI (40) on the year and has added some speed to his game with seven steals on the year without being caught.

Kerrington Cross has been a staple of consistency in his three years with Cincinnati and has had his best year to date. He’s trending towards career highs in his entire slash line, RBI, steals, and has already set a new high in walks with 36, which leads the team.

Overall, Cincinnati sits 17th in the nation with 83 stolen bases and has been caught only 13 times, so the Knight backstops will have to be ready to go whenever the Bearcats get on base. Outfielders Landyn Vidourek and Dalton Pearson are tied with 13 each and sit atop their leaderboard in that category. Cross [not Kross] has 12 as well, and Josh Hegemann, who leads them in on-base percentage, has swiped 10 of his own.


Lately, the Bearcats have opened their weekends with … an Opener!

Brenden Garula has started the last three Fridays and on the year has amassed a strong ERA of 2.80 before giving way to Seth Logue as the Bulk pitcher for the game. Logue has pitched well in that role, including six no-hit innings against Oklahoma State with 9 strikeouts. Logue was in the rotation as the Friday guy for some time but struggled in that role and has found a place in this new position.

Tommy Boba had been their Saturday guy for some time, but sitting with a 6.61 ERA over 47 ⅔ innings, the team decided to make a change and gave their typical Sunday guy Nathan Taylor a go on that day while sliding Boba to Sunday. Both pitchers had solid outings over the weekend against Houston.

Taylor’s ERA is also a bit high at 6.07, but does have a complete game (7 innings) against TCU and has struck out 51 in 46 innings, the strikeout total leading the team entering the week [Boba and Logue are second and third respectively].

The Knights should expect to see Garula more than once during the weekend, as he’s tied for the team lead with 18 appearances. Should the Bearcats have a lead late, Christian Mitchelle will be tasked with locking those games down, currently holding five saves on the year while no other pitcher in their bullpen has more than one.

Final Notes

With the conclusion of Week 10, the Knights currently sit 10th in the Big 12 at 8-10 in conference play. However, second place is a three-way tie at just 11-7, meaning the Knights are well within striking distance of one of the top spots in the conference, so long as they play well the rest of the way.

After a 3-1 week, the Knights will now look to maintain their momentum with a second bounce-back, this time in conference play. Get on out to The John™ and support your Knights! 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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