Baseball Resumes C-USA Play at No. 2 Rice

May 7, 2009

HOUSTON, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - One final Conference USA road series remains as UCF goes up against first place and second-ranked Rice in Houston this weekend. First pitch for game one is scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. After a make-up game at Stetson May 12 that will be televised by Bright House Sports Network, the Knights will finish up their 2009 home slate when they host Houston May 14-16 (note the Thursday start date).

Game Notes in PDF Format

Friday - Houston, Texas - 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday - Houston, Texas - 3 p.m. ET
Sunday - Houston, Texas - 2 p.m. ET
No. 2 Rice 31-12 Overall, 13-5 C-USA
UCF - 18-30 Overall, 6-12 C-USA
Reckling Park (5,700)
Rice leads, 12-2
Live Stats:

UCF vs. Stetson Game Recap
It was a pure UCF-Stetson clash May 6, where both teams would not quit in a game that featured a combined 13 pitchers, 23 runs and 28 hits. The Knights led 7-3 before the Hatters scored six in the sixth, but responded with seven in the seventh to take down Stetson 14-9. D.J. Hicks sealed the win by hitting a grand slam in UCF's big inning, his second homer of the night, and also pitched 2.0 shutout innings to grab the win.

Upcoming Opponent
No. 2 Rice has remained a staple in the top 10 all season long, and has claimed at least two wins in every C-USA series to own a 31-12 overall record and 13-5 mark in league play. Even though it is coming off a 4-1 loss to Texas State May 5, the Owls are batting .311 as a team with 48 homers, 56 stolen bases and a .968 fielding percentage. And on the mound Rice continues to look sharp, as nine different pitchers have ERAs under 4.35. That group is highlighted by All-American candidate starter Ryan Berry (4-0, 1.69).

The Series
Facing then No. 4 Rice, UCF came very close at pulling out a sweep last year in Orlando, defeating the Owls in game one, 4-2, before falling in the final two games by just one run apiece. Kiko Vazquez went 5-for-10 with two homers in that series that saw current senior Kyle Sweat pick up the win in the opener. For the all-time series, Rice leads the Black and Gold, 12-2, with UCF's lone victory in Houston coming during the 1998 campaign.

Shake it Up
It was a back and forth affair against Stetson May 6 until D.J. Hicks put matters into his own hands. The freshman designated hitter/pitcher entered in relief to pitch a scoreless seventh inning, setting up a seven-run frame by the Knights' offense. After they took a slim 10-9 lead in that inning, Hicks strode to the plate with the bases juiced and promptly crushed a grand slam over the right-field scoreboard. He then also hurled a quick eighth to solidify his win on the mound.

Hicks has now hit all seven of his homers since April 24 at UAB, a game in which he set a UCF record with six runs. Meanwhile

Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Three senior starting pitchers have been stepping up in a big way lately for the Knights. They went at least 5.0 innings in the series victory at UAB April 24-26. Caleb Graham opened up with six frames in game one, allowing just one run for the win, while Kyle Sweat gave up three earned runs in five innings of work in the next day. Taking the hill for the rubber match, Jaager Good delivered 6.0 strong innings with four strikeouts to grab the important victory.

The following weekend vs. Marshall May 1-3, the trio proceeded to work at least 6.1 innings each. Graham opened the series with 6.1 frames and three strikeouts, Good lasted 7.1 innings and left with the game tied at 4-4 and Sweat fanned six with just one walk in 7.0 in the finale.

Sign Your Name
With all of the accolades Shane Brown received from across the nation for tying an NCAA record with 18-straight times on base, he received a request that will put his name on display among several other greats in college ball. The College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas, will be displaying game-worn batting gloves signed by Brown in its museum, honoring the junior for his memorable performance April 21-26. To learn more about last year's collection, head to collegebaseballfoundation.org and click on Museum. One of those pieces of memorabilia is a ball used during Mitch Houck and Austin Hudson's combined no-hitter in 2008 vs. Wagner.

Big Time
Senior Jaager Good began the year trying to overcome a lengthy injury, and lately it appears he has worked his way back to his old self. The righty picked up the victory with 6.1 innings at UAB April 26, sitting down four on strikes. Against Marshall May 2, he went 7.1 innings and left in a 4-4 tie. Good struck out five in the process.

Hurts So Good
By being plunked twice vs. Marshall May 1, senior Kiko Vazquez took over the UCF single-season HBP record. The first baseman has now been hit 21 times on the year, while he also has been popped 48 times at UCF, which ranks second in the Knights' career list. Vazquez trails Ryan Bono for the program record, who was hit 50 times from 2003-06.

UCF held the NCAA record from 1985-02 when Odie Koehnke reached base in 17-straight plate appearances during the `85 campaign. That was until Cal State Northridge's Shaun Larkin got aboard 18-consecutive times in `02. However, the UCF name has been reattached to that record thanks to Shane Brown.

It all started with a double in the seventh against Stetson April 21. Brown then had another two-bagger in the eighth. But it was in game one at UAB April 25 that made those doubles really stand out as he then reached base in all eight plate appearances vs. the Blazers. One day later, the junior got aboard all five times, and in the series finale, Brown had a homer, double and single to tie the mark of 18-straight. Even though he flew out in his fourth at-bat April 26, Brown still went 13-for-18 in those four games for a .722 batting average, 1.333 slugging percentage, .783 on-base percentage and a 2.116 OPS.

Due to the memorable performance, Brown received NCBWA Pro-Line Athletic, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Louisville Slugger and CollegeBaseballInsider.com National Player of the Week awards along with the Conference USA Hitter of the Week accolade.