ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – On the eve of the 2019 American Athletic Conference Championship, presented by Air Force Reserve, a trio of Knights were picked to the league’s postseason team. Second baseman Matthew Mika was the lone Knight to represent the Black and Gold on the First Team, while outfielder Ray Alejo and pitcher Grant Schuermann earned nods for Second Team.
Mika became the first Knight to be honored by The American three times in a career.
Mika garnered his first career First Team selection on the back of his best season at UCF. The senior hit a career-best .320 during the regular season, more than 30 points better than his previous career high. The Lake Worth, Fla., native had 33 RBI, six home runs and led the team with 41 walks. Mika’s best baseball attribute, his speed, was on display all season with a league-high 29 stolen bases.
With more than 200 starts at UCF, Mika is third all-time in career steals with 85. The senior enters the conference tournament with 18 multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI outings. Mika joins Dylan Moore as the only UCF second basemen to earn a postseason honor in The American and the first to make First Team.
Grant Schuermann made a lasting impression in his lone season in The American. The lefty garnered Second Team honors as the only UCF pitcher to feature in every weekend rotation. Schuermann gave the Knights several deep starts, including a complete game against UConn, with seven quality starts out of his 14 games.
The southpaw enters the conference tournament ranked third in the league in WHIP with a mark of 1.13 and walks allowed per nine innings at 2.10. Schuermann is 6-5 on the year with an ERA of 3.57. He dealt 51 punchouts over 85 2/3 innings as a graduate transfer from Furman. He is the sixth pitcher to be honored by The American.
Ray Alejo made his second straight appearance on the Second Team. The redshirt junior posted a .311 clip at the plate behind 73 hits, good for fifth in The American. The Orlando native drove in 27 runs and scored 44 times. A mainstay at the top of the order, Alejo hit .325 with all seven of his home runs as the leadoff batter.
The redshirt junior stole 15 bases during the regular season. He hit five leadoff homers, including dingers on the first pitch of the games against South Florida and at Tulane. Alejo recorded a career-long 11-game hitting streak earlier this season and is in the midst of a career-best 18-game on-base streak as the conference tournament starts.
No. 6 UCF will go up against the No. 3-seeded Tulane on Tuesday night. First pitch is set for 45 minutes after the conclusion of the 4 p.m. contest between No. 2 Cincinnati and No. 7 Memphis. Marc Daniels will have the call on FM96.9/AM740 The Game. The American Digital Network will stream all the games leading to the championship, which will be aired on ESPNews.
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