UCF Knights get boomered by Sooners

by | Mar 13, 2024 | 0 comments

Home E Baseball E UCF Knights get boomered by Sooners

Looking to bounce back vs Stetson and Oklahoma State

It’s early morning. You grab a beverage and set course for the patio. Once outside, you grab a chair and position it out to face the sunrise. Staring out at nothing in particular, you begin raising the beverage to your lips. You pause, lowering your arm back down to rest on the chair of the arm, and release a heavy sigh. “What just happened?” you ask yourself.

This is the metaphoric (or perhaps realistic) scenario the Knights find themselves in after being handled by the Sooners over the weekend. What DID just happen in that three-game set?

Certainly, this was not the way the team expected the introduction to Big 12 Baseball to go. The first game, close, competitive, perhaps even thrown away. Literally, thrown away, as will be explained. But after that? A mere shadow of the collection of talent that is on this roster. Or, perhaps, was it a specter looming of what’s to come?

Recap of the Weekend

All Knights Losses


            3-4, 3-11, 2-14 (7 inn/run rule walkoff)

The Good

Typically, this segment goes into areas that were good – this time, it will be more focused on individual performances.

  • Ben Vespi
    • Going to give Ben his flowers here. After this weekend, there should be no doubt as to why he’s this team’s Friday night starter this year. 5.1 innings, allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits, walked only one and struck out five working his way through a rough lineup.
  • Matt Cedarburg
    • Matt got his first two starts of the season over the weekend, DHing in those two contests and playing some first base after a pinch-hit appearance in the other. During the weekend, Matt collected four hits, including his first longball of the year. Perhaps we see Matt’s bat in the lineup a little more often going forward.

The Bad

Time to grab that chair mentioned in the intro again.

  • Pitching (namely, games 2 & 3)
    • 25 runs allowed over the final two contests in just 15 possible innings due to a run-rule in game 3. Tip your cap to Oklahoma’s hitters, they were tough battles the entire weekend.
  • Offense
    • One thing the team had avoided coming into this weekend was stranding runners at a high rate. Over the three-game set, the Knights left 28 runners out on the basepaths while scoring just eight runs, three of which came on solo home runs.
    • In the 7th inning of game 1, UCF had the bases loaded with nobody out in a tie game and scored just one run out of it.
  • Defense
    • Game one, as mentioned, was “literally thrown away.” The Knights allowed four runs in that game and only one of those was earned, due in large part to four throwing errors.
      • Second inning, Vespi, fielding a ground ball. A runner ended up on third and scored on a single by the next hitter.
        • Vespi also had another throwing error on a pickoff attempt in the fifth, but no harm came as a result of this one.
      • Seventh inning, Kramer, on a pickoff attempt at first. Runner ended up on second. A pair of sacrifice flies later and that run scored.
      • Eighth inning, Boedicker, on a heavily misguided throw to third from first base after the runner from second broke towards third after a fielded grounder to the left side was thrown over to first. That runner ended up scoring as a direct result of this throw.
        • The next batter struck out, which would have led to entering the 9th inning tied had that throw not been made.

“Welcome to the Big 12,” says Oklahoma. Where the Knights struggled to get runners over and get them in, as had been the standard to this point, the Sooners seemed to score almost at will. After Vespi left the mound in the 6thinning of game 1, Oklahoma tallied at least one run in 17 of the final 18 innings where they came to bat, including 11 consecutive frames between games 1 and 2.

The message of “be your own reliever” that had gone through the pitching staff seemed to go by the wayside over the weekend. The usual damage mitigation was nowhere to be seen. Again, credit the hitters for Oklahoma, they did not relent at any point and never gave away an at-bat.

The defense was perhaps most concerning. After playing near-flawless ball over the first ten games of the season, collecting only five errors, the Knights doubled that total in just the first two games of the series.

The Week Ahead

What’s done is done, and UCF will have to rid themselves of the demons that haunted them over the weekend. Otherwise, the season will get long, and fast. How the team responds and adjusts will be pivotal to their success going forward.

Four home games on the schedule this week, as the Knights welcome in Stetson on Wednesday (6 p.m.) and Oklahoma State for a three-game weekend series (6 p.m., 6 p.m., and 1 p.m.). All games will be available for viewing on ESPN+.

Stetson (12-5)

Common Opponent: Florida [7-4 win, Feb 27]

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Stetson is coming off a four-game sweep of Bradley over the weekend and thus far in March have won seven of their nine contests as they head to Orlando. One of those two losses came at the hands of Georgia, who is currently sitting at 17-1. It is worth noting that, to this point, that is their only road game played this year.

For the Hatters, second baseman Yohann Dessureault is a name to watch. In 17 games this year, he’s swatted six home runs and five doubles, driving in 17 runs in the process while slashing .345/.463/.764 thus far (average, on-base, slugging).

Catcher Gio Cueto is another hitter to tread carefully around, leading the team [minimum 30 plate appearances] in RBI (19), average (.351), and on-base percentage (.465).

Oklahoma State (11-6)

Common Opponent: Oklahoma [14-5 win, Mar 12]

The first Big 12 home series for UCF features some Cowboys. Yeah, here we go.

Oklahoma State this year has been a mixed bag. Recent losses to Utah Tech and Mercer sit on their ledger, but also wins against teams like Oklahoma (see above for what Oklahoma can do to a team) and Arkansas, who just moved to number 1 in the rankings [D1Baseball America].

The Cowboys have reached their record with a mix of good hitting and solid pitching, averaging just under 7.25 runs per game and allowing just above 4 runs a game. Projected by D1 Baseball to be a Big 12 representative in the Regionals, Head Coach Josh Holliday’s squad will be tough to contend with.


Going off the numbers, the Cowboys seem to have a lot of players they are attempting to get into games. Only five of the hitters have played in every game, with some semblance of platooning at play with the current spread of plate appearances.

Right fielder Carson Benge leads the way with an OPS of 1.102 and 11 extra-base hits (three home runs, seven doubles, one triple), while walking more than he has struck out and leading the team with 19 RBI.

First baseman Colin Brueggemann paces the team in homers with 4 [three players right behind him with 3], and appears to have an all-or-nothing approach, sitting with 24 strikeouts to just 6 walks while hitting .254 on the year.

There is a group of players sitting between 50 and 60 plate appearances with averages ranging from .340 to .380 that the Knights will have to navigate through, those being Lane ForsytheKollin RitchieAiden Meola, and Avery Ortiz. All four hitters look to put the ball in play often, and this will keep UCF defenders on their toes throughout the weekend.


Gabe Davis is back in Orlando! Well, sort of. The Cowboys reliever sharing a name with one of UCF’s own athletic legends will be one to look out for – in 17 innings, all in relief (6 appearances), he’s allowed just three runs [two earned] and has struck out 19, walking only 4.

Janzen Keisel and Brian Holiday have both started four games and have ERAs sitting at 2.55 and 2.05 respectively, both striking out right around one batter per inning and managing their walks overall.

Sam Garcia joins the two above in the four-start group and may have the best stuff of them all – in 19.2 innings, Garcia has struck out 27 and walked only 3.

It is likely that we see Drew Blake at least once this weekend – the lefty has made seven appearances and thrown just 6.1 innings, indicating that he may be more of a specialist and could come in to face the bats of Lex Boedicker and Andrew Williamson during the series.

No doubt the Cowboys will be formidable and a great test to see how UCF rebounds in conference play – hopefully as well as the basketball team did this week in the Big 12 tournament. [Sidebar – extend Johnny Dawkins! Alright, back to baseball.] If the Knights can follow the trend of football and basketball to this point against Oklahoma State, this will be a good weekend.

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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