No. 15 TCU Visits Jay Bergman Field Friday-Sunday

Feb. 7, 2007

Game Notes - TCU Series
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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - UCF's eight-game home stand continues Friday-Sunday with a three-game series vs. No. 15 TCU at Jay Bergman Field. Tickets can be purchased by calling the UCF Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000. The Golden Knights are coming off a two-game split vs. Florida International Feb. 3-4.

No. 15 TCU - 0-0 Overall, 0-0 Mountain West
UCF - 1-1 Overall, 0-0 Conference USA
Jay Bergman Field (2,230)
UCF leads, 2-1
All Three Games - www.UCFAthletics.com
Live Stats
All Three Games - www.UCFAthletics.com
UCF Baseball Ticket Information

On Tap For This Weekend
UCF's eight-game home stand continues Friday-Sunday with a three-game series vs. No. 15 TCU at Jay Bergman Field. Tickets can be purchased by calling the UCF Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000.

The Opponent
Friday marks the first game of the season for the visiting TCU Horned Frogs, who are coming off a 39-23 2006 campaign. While they lost their top hitter, Chad Huffman, to the second round of the MLB Draft, six other regulars who batted over .300 return for 2007. Meanwhile, junior righty Jake Arrieta was 14-4 with 111 strikeouts in 111.0 innings pitched during his sophomore season. In all, TCU outscored its opponents by 104 runs in 2006.

The Series
Last season marked the first meetings between UCF and TCU, and the Golden Knights locked up a 2-1 series win in Fort Worth with a 5-3, 10-inning triumph in the final contest. The Horned Frogs won game one, 2-1, before dropping the final two games of the weekend.

FIU at UCF Series Recap
The Golden Knights jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the season opener, only to see Florida International claw back for a 5-3 win. Corey Lozano drove a two-out, three-run triple to center in the sixth inning that put FIU ahead for good. UCF starter Kyle Sweat went 5.1 innings and threw 76 pitches (50 strikes) in his season debut.

In game two, Brandon Romans' RBI ground out in the first gave UCF the early lead again and this time it held on for a 9-3 victory. Tyson Auer, Kiko Vazquez and Steve Stropp each recorded three hits, while Eric English earned the win in relief.

Some Nice Debuts
Catcher Brandon Romans started his first UCF game vs. FIU Feb. 3, and as the clean-up hitter, provided the Golden Knights with the team's first hit and run scored in the second inning. He finished the series by going 1-for-3 with two RBI in game two.

Also shining for the Knights, Nick Choto saw just one pitch but made it count in a pinch-hitting situation, successfully sacrificing Kiko Vazquez over to second in the eighth inning Feb. 3. Second baseman Dwayne Bailey combined to score three runs on the weekend, Ryan Richardson pounded out three hits in the No. 2 hole and Eric English tossed 3.1 innings of relief to grab the win Feb. 4.

Handling the Golden Panthers
With four hits against Florida International Feb. 3-4, Kiko Vazquez loves opening the season against the Golden Panthers. Combined with his freshman campaign, the first baseman is 7-for-16 with five RBI and a homer vs. FIU.

A Tough Series Awaits
UCF faced four different ranked opponents a year ago, and will take on its first ranked foe of 2007 in TCU. Last season, the Golden Knights were 0-4 at home against a team in the top 25, and were 1-9 overall.

What's New for 2007
The Golden Knights had a few holes to fill at the conclusion of 2006. They suffered the loss of a starting pitcher (Tim Bascom), a catcher (Ryan Bono), a third baseman (Matt Ray) and a right fielder (Dave DiNatale). Ray served as the leadoff hitter in 46 games last season, while Bono batted third in 36 contests.

To remedy these issues, UCF has already begun to use a mix of newcomers and returning players. Freshman Chris Duffy started both games against FIU at third base. Behind the plate, Steve Stropp and Birmingham-Southern transfer Brandon Romans split time as part of the UCF battery. And in the outfield, Ryan Richardson, who comes to UCF from Seminole C.C., Ryan Williams and Chadd Hartman have all received playing time in the corner outfield positions.

The Closer
UCF also lost its closer, Dominic Petracca, who saved eight games last year. The 2007 pitching staff has a combined nine career saves, led by Brian Brooks' five. Derek Abriola is the only other Golden Knight to have more than one save in his career (two).

Almost 100 Percent
Matt Horwath, who started 26 games at second as a junior, opened the year as UCF's designated hitter Feb. 3. The senior underwent surgery in the offseason and could return to the field very soon.

Silver Anniversary
Head coach Jay Bergman enters his 25th season as skipper of the UCF baseball team. With a career record of 1,157-657-3, he needs just one victory to jump into a tie for 21st on the NCAA Division I coaching list for career wins.

A New Man in Charge
Assistant coach Bryan Peters joined the UCF staff in the fall, and has already made big strides with the Golden Knight hitters. He will be looking to improve a team that went .275 at the plate in 2006, its lowest team batting average since 1994 (.250). On the basepaths, the Golden Knights tied for the second-lowest amount of stolen bases in program history by swiping just 59 a year ago. Since UCF has hit 31 or fewer home runs in four of the last five seasons, Peters will help the Golden Knights focus on the little things in order to score their runs.

Now to the Mound
Even though UCF posted some low marks with the stick in 2006, the pitching staff was busy holding hitters to a .257 average. The Golden Knight hurlers also struck out 439 hitters and notched seven shutouts.

Mitch Herold kept his composure with runners on base, limiting opponents to just 17 hits in 85 chances (.200). He served as part of the UCF trio of freshmen starters, where he combined with Mitch Houck and Kyle Sweat to start 31 games in 2006.

In 2007, a total of 11 right-handers make up the pitching staff, while UCF will have five southpaws to choose from, including Herold and Houck.

Getting Back on Track
For the first time under head coach Jay Bergman, UCF finished with a record under .500 in 2006. The Golden Knights were forced to play with numerous injuries and freshmen in the lineup, all while making their first appearance in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. They completed the year by placing ninth in C-USA.

Gotta Get the Runners Home
Close games were not very friendly to UCF in 2006. The Golden Knights were 4-11 in one-run games and 2-3 in extra innings. But when they scored in double-digits, they had a perfect 8-0 record and were 15-2 when scoring six or more runs.

Threatening the Career Charts
Many current Golden Knights rank in the top 10 of at least one career UCF statistical category. Brian Brooks enters 2007 fourth in relief appearances (60), seventh in overall appearances (64) and tied for ninth in saves (five). After just one year, Mitch Houck is fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (9.97). Offensively, Matt Horwath has been hit by a pitch 19 times to place eighth on the career leaderboard.

A Dynamic Schedule
With the first 25 of 28 games on its home turf, UCF has put together a schedule that is sure to please Golden Knight fans. After the opening weekend, UCF hosts No. 15 TCU, Feb. 9-11 and Maryland, Feb. 16-18. After the team travels to LSU for three contests Feb. 23-25, UCF will play 16-straight games at Jay Bergman Field Feb. 27-March 26.