Baseball Back on the Road with a Trip to Houston

April 3, 2008

ORLANDO - The No. 25 UCF baseball team will be hoping to end a four-game slide when it ventures to Texas to battle Houston in a three-game Conference USA series this weekend. The opening battle is slated for Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. with game two Saturday and the series finale on Sunday.

UCF Game Notes in PDF Format

Upcoming Opponent
UCF and Houston match up very well on paper in terms of batting average, stolen bases, fielding percentage and ERA. The Cougars also are trying to end a losing streak of their own as they dropped three-straight at San Diego State last weekend, but the pitching staff will be rested after UH did play a weekday game. It will bring a 16-10 record into the UCF series with a 2-1 mark in league play thanks to a series win at East Carolina. Bryan Pounds is the reigning C-USA Hitter of the Week and holds a .438 average with 34 RBI. Lefties Wes Musick (5-1, 2.72), Ty Stuckey (1-2, 6.07) and Donnie Joseph (0-1, 6.14) will start for the Cougars.

The Series
Houston has a commanding 12-4 lead in the series and has won all three C-USA regular-season meetings against the Knights since they joined the league in 2006. However, UCF took a 1-0 decision against the Cougars in an elimination game in the 2007 C-USA Championship with currently injured Jaager Good outdueling Wes Musick for the win.

UCF vs. FGCU Recap
UCF gave up at least one first-inning run for the fourth-straight game as Florida Gulf Coast scored once in the first and four more in the third en route to a 6-4 victory April 2. The Knights attempted to rally with three in the ninth but could not overcome the deficit.

Giving Himself Up
Senior Dwayne Bailey may only be in his second year with the Knights, but has laid down 16 career sacrifice bunts, including five this season. Those 16 sac hits rank seventh on the UCF all-time chart.

Picking a Winner
When opposing hitters get to first base against Mitch Houck, they may feel really good about themselves. However many times their winning attitude turns into frustration as Houck has racked up six pickoffs this season with his dynamic move to first base. The lefty has 15 for his career, including two in 2007 before he earned a medical redshirt.

The Weekend Rotation
UCF will change it up this weekend for its trip to Houston, as Kyle Sweat moves from his routine Saturday position to Friday night vs. the Cougars. Mitch Houck is now scheduled to get the start on the mound for Saturday's game while Carmine Giardina will make his second start of 2008, and his first for a weekend game, in the series finale.

At the Midway Point
UCF reached the halfway portion of its schedule in a 10-1 loss to East Carolina March 30, and went 22-6 through its first 28 games. Here's a look at previous Knight records at the midway point of the regular season dating back to the opening of Jay Bergman Field in 2001:
2001: 23-5 (NCAA Tournament)
2002: 16-12 (NCAA Tournament)
2003: 19-9
2004: 23-5 (NCAA Tournament)
2005: 23-5
2006: 16-12
2007: 15-13
2008: 22-6

Fans are Taking Notice
A total of 3,709 fans flocked to Jay Bergman Field for the East Carolina series, which ranked as the third-largest attended series in stadium history. The crowd of 1,490 for game two stands as the 11th largest at The Berg.

That attendance did not come close to the turn out just three days later against USF April 1. From 2002-07, Jay Bergman Field's record of 2,170 set on opening day in 2001 was never broken. However, a standing-room only crowd of 2,397 witnessed the Knights clash with the Bulls April 1 to break the old attendance record by 227. It was just the second time more than 2,000 fans took in a ballgame at UCF.

Solid at First
New first baseman Shane Brown has taken over his new position with relative ease this year. The sophomore has made just one error in 228 chances for a .996 fielding percentage. His stick has also produced just as well as the leather, as Brown is hitting .376 with a team-best 38 RBI and four dingers. He also has been hit by a pitch 12 times.

Pretty Simple
The Knights claim an 18-1 record when they out-hit their opponent, compared to a 4-7 mark when they post less hits than the team in the other dugout. UCF's only loss when it had more hits was a 10-5 decision at Jacksonville March 5 (hits were 14-12).

A Look at UCF's Victories
So far in 2008, UCF has played and defeated six different teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago: Missouri 1-0, Monmouth 3-0, Stetson 1-0, Jacksonville 1-1, Southern Miss 1-2 and East Carolina 1-2.

Mitch's Pitches
Sophomore Mitch Houck has made four-straight starts of at least 6.0 innings, including a 6.0-inning affair against ECU March 28 where he struck out nine and did not allow a run. Meanwhile, he combined to strike out 21 batters against JU and Pittsburgh, then set a career-high with 13 strikeouts in a combined no-hitter over Wagner March 18. For the season, the lefty has fanned 48 in 29.0 innings.