No. 24 Baseball Opens the Season Saturday

Feb. 1, 2005

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ORLANDO - The 2005 baseball season opens for No. 24 UCF Saturday, February 5 at 1 p.m. when the Golden Knights host Florida International. The Golden Knights and Golden Panthers have a brief two-game series at Jay Bergman Field, with both games of the series starting at 1 p.m.

The Golden Knights enter the season ranked No. 24 in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll. UCF is also No. 37 in Baseball America's preseason rankings.

UCF won the Atlantic Sun regular season title in 2004 en route to a 47-win season, the fourth-highest win total in school history. The Golden Knights finished 2004 47-18 overall and lost to Florida State in the NCAA Regional Championship in Tallahassee.

The Golden Panthers already have two games under their belt in 2005. FIU opened the season last weekend with a two-game series sweep of Florida A&M before facing cross-town rival Miami Tuesday night.

The first game of the series is on the UCF ISP Sports Network (740-AM The Team). The pregame show begins at 12:45 p.m. with Marc Daniels.

Inside The FIU Series
UCF and Florida International have met 86 times on the baseball diamond, with FIU leading the all-time series 46-40. The Golden Panthers are UCF's second-oldest rival on the diamond, trailing only Stetson (98 games vs. UCF) in the record books.

The Golden Panthers were also the first opponent at Jay Bergman Field in 2001 when the Golden Knights opened their state-of-the-art facility. The two teams split the two-game series, with FIU spoiling the opener at Jay Bergman Field, winning 6-2 on Feb. 3, 2001. UCF cruised to an easy 9-0 victory to earn a series split in 2001.

Last season, the Golden Knights swept FIU in Miami. It was the first series win over FIU since the 1996 season for the Golden Knights.

UCF in Season Openers
UCF is 19-13 all-time in season openers, including a 12-10 mark under head coach Jay Bergman. The Golden Knights defeated FIU 6-2 in last season's opener behind Matt Fox's 10 strikeouts.

UCF's largest margin of victory on opening day was in 1998 after a 17-0 win over Rollins.

The series also marks the sixth time in school history that UCF has opened a season vs. FIU. The two teams have met in each of the last four seasons and in 1979, when FIU topped UCF 9-4 and 6-5 in Orlando in the first series of the year for UCF.

Scouting the Golden Panthers
Florida International is 2-0 to start the season entering Tuesday's game vs. cross-town rival Miami. The Golden Panthers started the 2005 campaign with a two-game series sweep of Florida A&M last weekend in Miami.

The Golden Panthers earned a complete-game shutout by senior southpaw David Asher. The Orlando native is a product of University High School and originally signed with UCF out of high school. He opted instead to enroll at a junior college and transferred to FIU.

In the opening game of the year for FIU, Asher scattered seven hits over nine innings with seven strikeouts to earn the win.

Freshman Elih Villanueva got the start in game two and pitched six innings for the victory.

The Golden Panthers were tabbed to finish fourth in the Sun Belt, according to Baseball America. FIU was 29-33 in 2004 including a 12-12 conference mark.

Baseball America named junior outfielder Yahmed Yema to its preseason Sun Belt team. Yema hit .343 with nine home runs and 30 RBI in 2004.

Senior relief pitcher Danny Hernandez was also named to Baseball America's preseason Sun Belt team. Hernandez was 7-1 with a 2.80 ERA and seven saves in 2004.

UCF Picked to Win A-Sun
UCF is the preseason favorite in the Atlantic Sun, according to the league's head coaches and media members. The Golden Knights were 24-6 in league play in 2004 en route to the regular season championship. The Golden Knights were not picked in either preseason poll to win the A-Sun tournament title.
Two Pitchers Lost for the Year
UCF lost the services of two pitchers in preseason camp in January as sophomores Taylor Meier and Brett Bordwine were lost for the season due to injury.

Meier will miss all of 2005 with an arm injury while Bordwine suffered a season-ending ankle injury in preseason practice.

Meier was a preseason all-conference honoree by the A-Sun coaches and Baseball America. The 2004 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American was 6-3 with a 2.55 ERA last season. Meier was third on the team in innings (74) and strikeouts (56), behind the All-America duo of Matt Fox and Kyle Bono.

Bordwine was in the midst of a stellar preseason camp in which he was a candidate for the closer's job. The Melbourne native was 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA as a freshman in 2004.

Trio of All-American Arms Lost
With the loss of Taylor Meier to an arm injury, the Golden Knights lost three pitchers who garnered All-American honors a year ago.

First, Matt Fox and Kyle Bono signed professional contracts over the summer. Fox, a junior, was a first round pick of the Minnesota Twins while Bono was a draft eligible sophomore who signed with the Red Sox. Bono inked the largest signing bonus in MLB draft history for an eighth-round selection.
The trio combined to go 28-7 with a 2.05 ERA and 288 strikeouts in 284 innings of work in 2004.

This Weekend's Starters
Jay Bergman and Craig Cozart have gone through this before: replacing two All-American pitchers in the rotation. Following the 2001 season, Justin Pope and Jason Arnold left school for the professional ranks. Now, after Matt Fox and Kyle Bono are professionals, UCF turns to two new pitchers to head the rotation.

Junior Mike Billek has been named UCF's opening day starter vs. Florida International. The 6-4 right-hander had a strong fall season after spending the summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League.

Billek touched 95 MPH on several occasions in the fall and has the stuff to be a dominant pitcher. Billek was 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA in 2004 for UCF.

Sunday's starter is sophomore Tim Bascom. The Dunedin native had the best fall season of any UCF pitcher, vaulting himself into the weekend rotation.

Bascom will make his first career start Sunday vs. the Golden Panthers after leading UCF with 21 relief appearances in 2004. In his first collegiate appearance last season, Bascom pitched two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts to earn his first career win vs. FIU.
For the season, Bascom was 4-3 with a 4.88 ERA in 27.2 innings.

Hello Newlin
It's easy to overlook senior Darren Newlin after UCF's trio of All-American pitchers in 2004 received all of the accolades.

All Newlin did in his first season at UCF was go 5-0 with a 3.13 ERA in 60.1 innings of work. After spending the first half of the season in the bullpen, Newlin solidified the weekend rotation as UCF's No. 3 starter in 2004.

Closing in on the Century Mark
UCF is set to begin its fifth season of play at Jay Bergman Field. The Golden Knights are three victories short of the century mark at Jay Bergman Field.

UCF is 97-35 (.734) all-time in the ballpark, after last season's 24-7 mark at home.

The Chase for 900 & 1100
Head coach Jay Bergman is 25 victories away from reaching the 900-mark at UCF. Now in his 23rd season as the skipper, Bergman owns an impressive overall record of 1,091-605-3.

Bergman is just nine wins away from the 1,100-mark for his career.

The Wins Keep on Coming
UCF is among the national leaders in victories in the decade. The Golden Knights are 18th in the NCAA in wins in the 2000s with 213 victories.

UCF vs. Southpaws
UCF enjoyed facing left-handed pitchers in 2004. The Golden Knights were an impressive 14-3 (.823) vs. southpaws including a team batting average of .321. By comparison, UCF hit .303 vs. right-handers in 2004.

Dealing with Dee
Now in his fourth year as the starter in left field, senior Dee Brown is approaching several records at UCF. The Brooksville native ranks first in sacrifice flies (23), second in career hit by pitch (28), fifth in career RBI (158) and seventh in career hits (224).
If Brown can equal his 2004 campaign in which he hit .373 with 85 hits and 68 RBI, he will leave UCF as the school's all-time leader in hits and RBI.

Off to the Races
Sophomore shortstop Matt Ray made an immediate impact on the bases last season for the Golden Knights. The Tennessee native swiped 21 bases in 23 attempts, ranking second on the team.

Ray must learn to adjust to a new position and a potential new spot in the batting order in 2005. He moves from second base to shortstop while also moving into the leadoff spot in the batting order. Ray hit second for the majority of the season in 2004.

Two-Headed Monster
UCF has one of the nation's top catching tandems in juniors Drew Butera and Ryan Bono. Both players spent last summer in the Cape Cod League, the nation's premier summer wooden bat league.

Butera is widely regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the nation. With a strong arm and quick release, Butera has been a nightmare vs. would-be base stealers. Butera ranks third in the UCF annals in allowing stolen bases (59-94).

Bono is right behind Butera in the same statistical category, as he is fourth in allowing stolen bases (54-80).

Both players showed excellent power potential in fall practice. Butera hit .282 with one homer in 2004 while Bono batted .316 with two home runs last season.
Follow UCF On The Internet
Fans can follow every UCF game this season live on the Internet with live gametracker stats at www.ucfathletics.com, the official athletics site of UCF. In addition, the UCF/ISP Sports Network will broadcast live 43 of UCF's 56 games in 2005 at www.ucfathletics.com. For the latest radio schedule, visit ucfathletics.com.

On the Move
In 2004, the Golden Knights ranked sixth in school history with 111 stolen bases.

UCF returns seven players who combined to steal 55 bases in 2004. Matt Ray leads the way with 21 stolen bases while Kevin Richmond swiped 13 a season ago.

UCF lost three players who combined to steal 56 bags, with Clay Timpner and his 43 stolen bases first on the team.

Holding the Lead
Despite only having 10 saves as a team in 2004, the Golden Knights were tough to beat when taking a lead into the late innings.

The Golden Knights were 38-4 with the lead after six innings, 25-3 with the lead after seven frames and 28-1 when entering the ninth with the lead.

Jumping Out On Top
The Golden Knights were 25-4 in 2004 when scoring in the first inning. UCF also enjoyed playing with the lead, holding a record of 36-7 when scoring first in 2004.