UCF Resumes C-USA Play with a Three-Game Series at No. 6 Rice

April 19, 2007

ORLANDO - Back in league play for the first time since April 8, UCF travels to No. 6 Rice this weekend to take on the Conference USA leader in Houston. Game one is set for Friday at 8 p.m. ET, as the Owls will be the highest ranked team the Knights have played this season.

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Rice - 30-11 Overall, 10-2 Conference USA
UCF - 18-19 Overall, 1-8 Conference USA
Reckling Park (4,500)
Rice leads, 6-1
Friday: www.UCFAthletics.com
Saturday and Sunday: 740-AM The Team and www.UCFAthletics.com
Live Stats

This Week's Opponent
Owner of a two-game lead in the Conference USA standings, Rice holds a 10-2 league mark and is 30-11 on the 2007 season. The league's preseason favorite has a .294 team batting average and has twice the amount of homers as its opponents (34-17). The Owls, who begin the UCF series ranked No. 2 in the RPI, are 16-3 at home, are ninth in Division I with a 3.09 ERA and will send out three starters vs. the Knights who all have ERAs under three.

The Series
After notching a three-game sweep last season, Rice owns a 6-1 all-time advantage over UCF. The Black and Gold's lone victory came in 1998 when it defeated the No. 9 Owls, 4-3, on the road.

UCF at USF Recap - April 17
The Knights put the first four batters on base at USF April 17 and took a 3-0 first-inning lead before eventually falling, 10-5. UCF issued seven walks in the contest while USF gave up eight in what was the Bulls' second win over the Black and Gold in Tampa this season. Leading the way for the Knights' offense, Eric Kallstrom tied a career-high with three hits, and leadoff man Matt Horwath added two.

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.

Notes About Ranked Competition
Rice will be the third ranked team UCF faces this season. The Knights went 1-2 against then-No. 15 TCU Feb. 9-11 and defeated then-No. 17 Florida in a midweek game April 10.

Last season, Rice became the first No. 1 program to ever visit Jay Bergman Field. The last top-10 team other than the Owls to take on the Knights was LSU in 2004 when it was ranked No. 2 (UCF went 1-2 vs. the Tigers). Meanwhile, UCF has not battled a top-10 team on the road since it met No. 1 Florida State in the NCAA Tallahasse Regional in 2002. Also, the last time the Knights swept a ranked opponent on the road was at No. 8 Stetson in 2001.

In the seven games between UCF and Rice, the Owls were ranked in the top 10 in six of those contests and No. 1 in the last four meetings. In the first-ever clash in 1996, No. 16 Rice defeated UCF 6-5 in Houston.

Fresh Meat
So far this season, the Knights have gone up against 10 freshmen starting pitchers and own a 5-5 record in those contests. Those five victories came against Northeastern March 7, UMass March 10, Rutgers March 18, Harvard March 26 and Stetson March 27.

Not Letting Up
Tyson Auer has a UCF season-high 13-game hitting streak heading into the Rice series. Over this stretch, the junior is 21-for-59 (.356) with eight RBI. The following is the top Golden Knight hitting streaks from each of the last five seasons:

2007 - 13 - Tyson Auer - March 24-current
2006 - 9 - Ryan Bono - April 9-23
2005 - 14 - Drew Butera - April 19-May 13
2004 - 19 - Clay Timpner - Feb. 13-March 17
2003 - 19 - Ryan Bear - March 1-29="https://ucfknights.com/http:%3E%3C/ahref="http:>="https://ucfknights.com/http:%3E%3C/pre%3E%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%3Cp%3E%3Cstrong%3EIn%20a%20Big%20Country%3C/strong%3E%3Cbr%3E%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20Even%20though%20UCF%20consistently%20plays%20the%20majority%20of%20its%20games%20in%20Orlando,%20as%20well%20as%20the%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20state%20of%20Florida,%20it%20has%20embarked%20on%20some%20lengthy%20road%20trips.%20Currently%20the%20Knights%20are%20on%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20their%20second%20five-game%20road%20swing%20of%20the%20season%20and%20will%20have%20a%20seven-game%20trip%20later%20this%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20year.%20The%20last%20time%20UCF%20had%20five-straight%20road%20contests%20was%20in%202004,%20and%20the%20longest%20came%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20during%201998%20when%20it%20played%2015-consecutive%20games%20away%20from%20Orlando.%3C/p%3E%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%3Cp%3E%3Cstrong%3EEveryday%20I%20Write%20the%20Brooks%3C/strong%3E%3Cbr%3E%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20With%20a%20relief%20outing%20at%20USF%20April%2017,%20senior%20%3Ca%20href="/roster.aspx?rp_id=2388" class="imported_story_link" oldlink="/sports/m-basebl/mtt/brooks_brian00.html">Brian Brooks tied Brian Huie for fourth on the UCF all-time list for career appearances with 76. Two more will move the lefty into a tie for third with Zach Sutton.

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.