Baseball Finally Returns to the Field Tuesday at USF

April 16, 2007

ORLANDO - Having a week's worth of rest behind it, the UCF baseball team continues its journey through a very difficult stretch when the Knights travel to USF Tuesday at 6 p.m. It will be the second time they have ventured to Tampa this season as the Bulls took an 11-4 victory April 3.

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USF - 26-12 Overall, 9-6 Big East
UCF - 18-19 Overall, 1-8 Conference USA
Red McEwen Field (1,500)
USF leads, 48-46
740-AM The Team and www.UCFAthletics.com
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This Week's Opponent
Owning a 26-12 record, USF enters the week after losing two of three at Big East foe Villanova, and three of four overall. The Bulls are 17-6 in non-conference games this year. For the offense, Walter Diaz, who went 2-for-6 vs. UCF April 3, is on a 20-game hitting streak and claims a .390 average for the season. Matt Quevedo got the start vs. the Knights two weeks ago, and surrendered just one earned run in 6.1 innings.

The Series
With a convincing 11-4 victory earlier this year in Tampa April 3, USF owns a 48-46 advantage over UCF. In the loss, Eric English got the start and went 3.2 innings before the Knights used five more pitchers. Tyson Auer led the offense with three hits. For the Bulls, every starter scored at least one run while seven different batters had two hits apiece.

UCF at No. 17 Florida Recap - April 10
Not sure whether they would get the game underway in the first place, UCF and No. 17 Florida played in some wet conditions April 10 but it did not effect Knight starter Kyle Sweat at all. The sophomore tossed 8.0 innings of shutout ball, giving up just two hits and striking out three to lift the Black and Gold to a 6-2 upset. Tyson Auer, Shane Brown, Kiko Vazquez, Ryan Richardson and Dwayne Bailey each had at least two hits in the game, while Justin Weiss came on late in the ninth to earn the save.

A Little Golf Won't Hurt
Almost every season, UCF enjoys a decent-sized break during the year. In 2007, it was able to take advantage of having a full week off between games by hosting the UCF Baseball Golf Classic at Shingle Creek Golf Club April 14. The annual alumni game was slated for the following afternoon but was unfortunately rained out.

One Night in Gainesville
UCF might not have faced No. 17 Florida at the perfect time since the Gators were coming off wins over No. 1 Florida State and No. 4 South Carolina, but the Knights were backed by Kyle Sweat's dazzling performance on the mound en route to a 6-2 victory April 10. The right-hander matched his career-high with 8.0 innings of work, as it was Sweat's second-straight start where he finished eight innings on the hill (Harvard, March 26). He is the only UCF pitcher this year to last 8.0 in a game. Sweat's outing earned him Conference USA Pitcher of the Week honors for the first time in his career.

In the win against Harvard, the Apopka, Fla., native set a career-high with six strikeouts en route to defeating the Crimson, 7-3. Sweat surrendered only two runs on six hits and two walks.

Hungry Like the Wolf
Kiko Vazquez has already eclipsed some of his statistical marks he set in 54 games as a freshman last year, and is still searching for more. Let's compare his numbers from this year with those from 2006:

Category 2007 2006 Average .325 .247 Hits 41 42 Doubles 10 11 Triples 1 0 Home Runs 5 4 RBI 28 21

Dwayne Inflicting Some Pain
Junior Dwayne Bailey, who transfered from South Florida CC after last season, broke out against Florida April 10. The second baseman raised his average .020 points after collecting a season-high three hits vs. the Gators. Bailey got the third inning going with a one-out double and came around to score on a Tyson Auer base hit. The Tampa native then singled in the fifth and notched a RBI base hit in the sixth.

Unfriendly Visitors
Even though Florida consistently has a home record over .700 each season, UCF has loved traveling to Gainesville recently. The Knights moved to 3-1 in last four games at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium with a 6-2 upset April 10, and now have eight victories in 19 total outings in Gainesville.

The Wrath of Horwath
Matt Horwath has taken over the leadoff role in impressive fashion. The senior was written into the top spot before game one of a doubleheader at UAB March 31 and went on to go 9-for-21 (429) while extending his hitting streak to eight games. That stretch did come to a close at Florida April 10, but he still notched a RBI and a run scored in the victory. Horwath has been serving mostly as the UCF designated hitter, as well as seeing time at third base.

The Good News
Junior righty Jaager Good has been as steady as they come for the Knights' pitching staff, as he has a team-high 53.2 innings pitched and 41 strikeouts. Good came out of the pen in the first game of the season, but has since made nine starts for the Knights. He had his best game in a UCF uniform when he pitched 7.2 scoreless innings against Rutgers March 18, earning the win by giving up just two hits and striking out 10. More recently, Good got his first Friday night start April 6 vs. Southern Miss and proceeded to shut down the Golden Eagles by tossing 6.0 shutout innings with six punch-outs.

Tyson Ain't Chicken
There seems to be something about pressure situations that center fielder Tyson Auer craves. With two down in the ninth at Stetson March 27, Auer tied it at 3-3 on a RBI single and the Knights eventually won it in 11. Taking on Southern Miss April 6, he was at it again. With the bases juiced and the Black and Gold trailing 4-1, Auer singled to second baseman Bailey Hartel, who then threw it into right field to permit three runs to score. The Knights also won that wild affair by scoring a run in the 10th.

Auer then came through at No. 17 Florida April 10, this time it was early in the contest. With the bases loaded and one out in the third inning, he ripped a two-run single up the middle to give the Knights a 2-0 lead, one in which they would not relinquish.

More With No. 3
Tyson Auer set a UCF season-high by extending his hitting streak to 12 games with a 2-for-5 performance at Florida April 10. Over that stretch, the junior went 20-for-55 (.364) with eight RBI. Along with his streak, he has at least one hit in 18 of his last 19 outings.

Auer also has made the most of his move to the No. 3 hole in the order. Since switching from the leadoff spot before game one of a twin-bill at UAB March 31, the center fielder has gone 14-for-32 (.438).

Turn the Music Up
D.J. Bissell made his 10th collegiate at-bat pay off. After entering the game in left field in the eighth inning vs. Southern Miss April 6, the freshman strode to the plate in the 10th inning with the winning run at third base and one out. Bissell found the perfect time to collect his first UCF base hit and RBI, dropping a single down the right-field line to win it for the Knights, 5-4, as Brandon Romans came home to score.

Extra Tastes Better
The Knights moved to 3-0 in extra-inning games this year after a dramatic 5-4 win over Southern Miss April 6. In the program's history, UCF is 54-34-1 in extra-inning affairs.

Listen While Enjoying that Bowl of Rice
UCF and ISP Sports announced the addition of three games to the 2007 broadcast schedule. The Knights' three-game series at Rice will now be available with the last two contests featured on 740-AM The Team. Fans will have access to all three outings at www.UCFAthletics.com.