Fourth Week of Fall Ball Starts Up for UCF Baseball

Oct. 12, 2008

UCF Practice Photo Gallery

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A rainbow hung over Jay Bergman Field Sunday as the UCF baseball team kicked off its fourth week of fall practices. Head coach Terry Rooney is pleased with his team's progress so far, and hopes the Knights can sustain their energy level leading up to the Black & Gold World Series Oct. 19-21.

"As a team, we're continuing to improve on the way we play the game," said the first year leader of the Knights. "That's the most important element that we are trying to achieve this fall, is how we approach, practice and play the game. Those three concepts are what I am trying to instill in these guys every single day.

"Individually, there have been some great outings and performances. What I'm looking for is the person that can bring it to the park every single day. But as a team, can we bring this energy, this style, this aggressiveness each day. Week by week we are getting better at it. I think as we continue to play that way as a team, individually guys will get a lot better."

Rooney also provided his overall thoughts on the pitching staff.

"There's a number of guys that are performing very well. This is a new approach, so to speak, for a lot of the guys and the way that they play the game. What I am trying to implement from a pitching standpoint is an offensive-pitching-based system. That system is I want to see who throws the most strikes, who competes and who pitches in the clutch. We've had some guys continue to get better at it. Another thing we are trying to do is be offensive when we pitch. We want to throw to contact, eliminate three-ball counts, control the running game and have an outstanding tempo on the mound. The quicker guys can learn to do that, the more innings they will get."

With one week remaining before the Black & Gold World Series, Rooney also illustrated what he is looking forward to in week four of practices, including the annual Scout Day on Tuesday morning.

"Our emphasis this week is a lot of team fundamentals and to make sure we have gone over all of our team aspects. This entire fall, our focus has been on one, evaluating players, and two, implementing our style of play. So this week we are going to revisit team defense so we are fundamentally sound. I tell our guys this all the time, and that's how we don't want to gamble on defense. We're going to be aggressive and gamble on offense, but defensively we are going to play fundamental baseball and not gamble.

"We have Scout Day on Tuesday which is an exciting day for lot of the players. Professional scouts will be able to come in and get an early evaluation of our players. We are an older team on paper so this is a great opportunity for those guys. It will be an exciting week leading up to the Black & Gold World Series."

The skipper held an easy-going team meeting Sunday before the players took the field at 5 p.m. The Knights then broke down in groups, with assistant coach Jeff Palumbo bringing the defense together near second base for an on-field lesson. Rooney, meanwhile, paced the grounds in right field to help the pitchers warm up.

Moments later, Palumbo sent the outfielders and infielders to their positions to work on cutoffs and infield grounders. Assistant Aaron Smith also tutored the outfielders with deep fly balls in left-center.

Batting practice led to a five-inning scrimmage in which, for the second time this fall, UCF coaches served as the pitchers for the intrasquad. Smith was the lucky arm to get behind the screen, and he saw D.J. Hicks drive in a run in the bottom of the first on a sac fly for Black. Austin Smith and Eric Kallstrom answered for Gold with a pair of RBI hits in the top of the second, but Black responded with two runs of its own the next time it strode to the plate, highlighted by an RBI double from Kyle Mills.

Nick Choto supplied Gold with another lead by driving in two in a four-run third inning. Black kept it close in the bottom half on RBI hits off the bats of Brandon Romans and Beau Taylor. Now with a 6-5 lead, Gold tacked on four more in the fifth, capped off by a two-run single from B.J. Zimmerman.

Rooney decided to play one more inning and switched the score to an even 5-5. After Gold went 1-2-3, Colin Arnold and Josh Siebenaler posted one-out hits, and two batters later, Hicks drove in the evening's final run on a hard base hit to right field with two away.

The final batting statistics for the Knights are listed below.

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UCF Gold Statistics
CF Austin Smith - 2-4, 3B, 3 RBI, R
SS Eric Kallstrom - 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI, R
3B Chris Duffy - 1-4
C Kiko Vazquez - 1-4, R
LF B.J. Zimmerman - 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R
1B Evan Stobbs - 1-4, R
2B Jake Huxtable - 1-4, 2 R
RF Nick Choto - 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 R

UCF Black Statistics
CF Colin Arnold - 3-4, 2 R
2B Josh Siebenaler - 1-4
3B Shane Brown - 1-4, 2B
1B D.J. Hicks - 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI, R, SF
DH Brandon Romans - 2-3, 2B, RBI, R
LF Stephen Branca - 0-3
C Beau Taylor - 3-3, RBI, R
RF Chadd Hartman - 1-3, R
SS Kyle Mills - 1-3, 2B, RBI