UCF and Stetson Meet for the 100th Time Friday

March 31, 2005

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ORLANDO - For the 100th time, UCF and Stetson will meet on the baseball diamond this Friday as the two A-Sun rivals begin their final conference three-game series in DeLand at Melching Field. The Golden Knights, who are moving to Conference USA in the fall of 2005, own a 57-42 all-time series lead over their rivals from DeLand.

The three-game series begins Friday at 7 p.m. and continues Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. on Sun Sports. All three games will be carried live on the UCF ISP Sports Network (740-AM The Team) with Marc Daniels on the call.

Sun Sports is scheduled to air the final game of the three-game set Sunday. Whit Watson will handle the play-by-play duties while Charles Davis will provide color commentary.

Best Start Ever
UCF's 26-5 record to begin the season is the best start in school history after 31 games.

Inside the Stetson Series
UCF has played Stetson more than any other school in its history on the baseball diamond. The Golden Knights lead the all-time series, 57-42.

UCF has won three of its last four meetings vs. the Hatters, including two wins in three games in 2004 at Jay Bergman Field.

Home Sweet Home (in DeLand)
The quick 45-minute trip up to DeLand from Orlando has always been a pleasant one for the Golden Knights. UCF is 8-2 all-time vs. Stetson at Melching Field.

All-time, the Golden Knights are 14-4 at Melching, including the 2002 Atlantic Sun Conference tournament title.

In the Polls
UCF moved up to No. 18 in the latest Collegiate Baseball News rankings. The ranking is UCF's highest since the 2001 season, when UCF went wire-to-wire in the rankings, peaking at No. 7.

The Golden Knights are ranked No. 25 this week by Baseball America and No. 19 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 25 polls.

Scouting Stetson
The Hatters of Stetson are 16-11 on the season, including a mark of 5-4 in A-Sun play. Stetson is tied for fourth in the A-Sun standings with Florida Atlantic. The Hatters won two of three from FAU in Boca Raton last weekend.

Stetson is ranked first in the A-Sun in batting (.332), but the Hatters are ninth in the league in pitching (5.46). Stetson leads the conference in fielding percentage (.968).

Redshirt freshman Chris Johnson has been on fire for the Hatters, batting .446 in 27 games. He leads Stetson and the A-Sun in batting (.446), hits (50) and runs scored (33). Senior John DeStafano, the current A-Sun Player of the Week, is batting .364 with six home runs and 36 RBI for the Hats.

Stetson is scheduled to start senior Ryan Dixon on the mound Friday night. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 4.87 ERA in eight appearances in 2005. In 40.2 innings, Dixon has yielded 44 hits, 15 walks along with 31 strikeouts. Opponents are batting .280 vs. the right-hander.

On Saturday, sophomore southpaw Chris Ingoglia is the scheduled starter. The Boynton Beach product is 2-1 with a 5.85 ERA in four starts. In 20 innings, he has allowed 25 hits, 13 runs, five walks to go along with 12 strikeouts. Opponents are batting .325 vs. the left-hander.

The Hatters are scheduled to pitch senior right-hander Cy McCuen in the series finale. The Port St. Lucie native is 2-0 with a 4.88 ERA in 31.1 innings of work. Opponents are batting .276 vs. McCuen.

On the Hill for UCF
Sophomore Tim Bascom, junior Mike Billek and junior Ray Rodriguez will start on the mound this weekend for the Golden Knights.

Bascom has developed into UCF's ace, going 6-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 2005. The Dunedin native is first on the team in innings (55.1) and strikeouts (65). He has won five straight starts on the year, including his first three in A-Sun action over Campbell, Gardner-Webb and Jacksonville. Opponents are batting just .218 vs. the right-hander.

Saturday Mike Billek gets the call on the mound for the Golden Knights. The hard-throwing right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 42.1 innings. Billek has allowed 42 hits on the season to go along with 41 strikeouts and 11 walks. Opponents are batting .261 vs. Billek.

Rodriguez will close the series out on the mound. The New Yorker is a perfect 5-0 with a 1.87 ERA in 43.1 innings of work. Rodriguez has been solid all season long as he has allowed just 28 hits in 43.1 innings of work with 38 strikeouts. Opponents are batting a measly .179 vs. the right-hander.

UCF in the A-Sun Rankings
UCF is ranked third in the A-Sun in batting (.297), first in pitching (3.24) and is tied for fourth in fielding (.960) in this week's A-Sun statistics as of March 30.

The Golden Knights have 85 stolen bases on the season, tops in the A-Sun. Stetson has just 19 stolen bases to rank last in the league.

In the individual statistics, John-Michael Howell is ninth in the league with a .370 batting average. Howell also ranks tied for sixth in hits (37), tied for third in home runs (7), tied for third in doubles (10) and fourth in total bases (70).

Matt Ray is second in the A-Sun in runs scored (32), third in stolen bases (17) and third in walks (23).

Dee Brown is among the league leaders in home runs (6, tied for seventh), tied for sixth in runs (26) and second in RBI (31).

Ryan Bono is tied for sixth in RBI (27), second in walks (25) and fourth in on-base percentage (.486).

Tim Bascom is third in the league in ERA (2.60), tied for first in wins (6), second in strikeouts (65), second in games started (8), fifth in opponent batting average (.218) and first in innings pitched (55.1).

Ray Rodriguez is second in the A-Sun in ERA (1.87), tied for eighth in strikeouts (38), tied for ninth in innings (43.1) and second in opponent batting average (.179).

Darren Newlin is tied for third in the A-Sun in wins with Rodriguez. He is also 10th in strikeouts (37).

Brian Brooks is tied for fifth in the league in saves with three.

Butera on Bench Award List
Drew Butera was named to the official Watch List for the 2005 Johnny Bench Award announced by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. Thirty-seven catchers from 16 conferences were nominated for the award by their coaches. Because the award is given annually to the top National Collegiate Catcher, the list will be updated to include other candidates until May 2, 2005.

The watch list will be narrowed down to 10 semifinalists, whom will be announced May 17, 2005. A comprehensive biography will be created on each of the semifinalists and sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced on June 1, 2005, prior to the NCAA Regionals and Major League Baseball Draft. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 8th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 29, 2005.

Johnny Bench presented Cal State Fullerton catcher, Kurt Suzuki, with the award last June in Wichita, Kan. Chris Iannetta of the University of North Carolina and Landon Powell of the University of South Carolina were the other finalists for the award.