This Week in UCF Baseball

by | Feb 21, 2024 | 0 comments

Home E Baseball E This Week in UCF Baseball

Citronaut Saturday? More like, Sit-Rain-Out Saturday!

The Knights opened the 2024 college baseball season on Friday, February 16th, with a thrilling back-and-forth affair resulting in a 12-11 victory over the Bryant Bulldogs. The winner of the next two games? Mother Nature.

Despite attempting to find a window in which to get not just one but two games in over the weekend, rain cascaded upon the state of Florida resulting in the second game ending in a no-contest during the fifth inning, and the third game being washed out entirely.

Recap of the Week

Friday: Bulldogs 11 – 12 Knights

Saturday: Bulldogs 8 – 7 Knights [suspended top 5th, ruled no-contest]

Sunday: Rained out.

*Note for below: Stats from Game 2 will not count for the season totals.

The Good

  • Offense
    • Strikeouts – notably down. 10 total over the 12 innings recorded*Hits strung together, resulting in two big innings
      • 8-run 6th inning game 17-run 2nd inning game 2*
    • Resilience – hitters stayed in the moment and did not let the situations get the best of them, overcoming multiple deficits during the games
  • Pitching
    • Strikeouts, a solid amount. 20 over 14 innings*

The Bad

  • Pitching
    • A lot of runs allowed over that same timeframe
    • Gopher Ball an issue
  • Defense
    • While no errors may show on the stat sheet, a couple misreads and positioning cost the Knights some runs, notably in game 1
  • Celebration
    • No BOOM on Zyska’s home run

Notable Performances*


  • Andrew Sundean – 3/8, 2 2B, 4 RBI
  • Jack Zyska – 4/7, 1 HR, 2 RBI
  • Mikey Kluska – 3/6, 3 RBI


  • Chase Centala – One inning, no baserunners with a strikeout.
  • Ben Vespi – the stat line may not be the prettiest [4 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs] – however, none of the contact against Vespi was solid. These were hits that simply found holes. Over those same 4 innings, he struck out six and walked only one. This is encouraging going forward.

The most notable item of the weekend may have been the Knight hitters showing that the reliance on the longball to score could be a thing of the past. Of the 15 runs scored, only two of them crossed the plate because of a home run.

On the flip side, the home run issues on the mound still showed signs of hanging around, and more notably in big moments. Four homers were hit by the Bulldogs, all coming in critical moments during the games, including a game-tying blast in the 8th inning of game 1, and a go-ahead three-run home run in the 5th inning of game 2.

The one in the 5th inning of game 2 is important, as it occurred with two outs in the top half of that frame. It ended up being the difference between a no-contest and the Knights being 2-0 to begin the year.

Per the NCAA Rulebook, Section 8.b, the umpire can call the game official any time after five innings have been completed, with an exception that if the team second at bat (the home team in this case) has scored more runs in four innings offensively than the team first at bat has done in five innings, the game may be called in the middle of the fifth inning.

The Week Ahead

On Wednesday the 21st, the Knights head down to Miami to face the Hurricanes at 5 p.m. before hosting the Samford Bulldogs for a weekend set. That is correct – two weekends in a row facing Bulldogs.

Against Miami, keep an eye on sophomores Blake Cyr and Jason Torres, along with true freshman Daniel Cuvet. In their sweep of New Jersey Tech over opening weekend, these three infielders combined for six of Miami’s 10 homers (two each) and drove in 19 runs. Cuvet especially dazzled in his first impression of college ball, racking up 9 hits in 13 at bats while walking twice. The Knight pitchers will need to navigate this lineup carefully and pick their battles.

The Knights are 11-31 all-time against Miami (7-16 on the road), per the Knights media guide. The most recent win against the Hurricanes came in 2022, a 10-5 win at John Euliano Park. This will be the third consecutive season where the Knights head down to Miami for a weekday game.

For Samford, infielder John Anderson and true freshman DH/OF Angelo Prieto had a strong opening weekend, both driving in seven against Queens. Switch-hitting catcher Lucas Steele also knocked two over the wall to help the Bulldogs in their sweep.

Last year, Anderson was able to crack the 20-homer mark, clubbing 22 over 59 games. Steele himself was a presence at the plate in 2023 with an OPS north of 1.000 in 61 games.

On the mound, Brooks Rice and Michael Ross are worth noting. Rice has a fastball that can reach the mid-90s and while Samford considered making him their closer, he showed more comfort and promise as a starter. He struck out eight in five innings in Samford’s opener. Ross missed all of 2023 due to elbow surgery, but posted solid numbers in 2022, and pitched six innings of one-run, one-hit ball on Saturday, striking out nine in the process.

The Bulldogs are projected by D1 Baseball to win their conference and be a team in the NCAA Regionals.            

The Knights are 20-5 all-time against Samford (11-5 at home), per the media guide. The more recent history, however, has Samford winning three of the last four, including a series win in 2022. UCF will look to turn that around this weekend and try to get some momentum going early in the season.

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 *