First Place on the Line as UCF Welcomes Rice to Orlando

April 15, 2010

By Brian Ormiston

This Weekend's Promotions

Orlando, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Only one game behind Rice in the C-USA standings, UCF will host the Owls in a three-game set starting Friday at 6:30 p.m. Not only will it be a battle for first place, but it also will be Baseball Alumni Weekend, highlighted by the 2010 Golf Scramble Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at EastWood Golf Club.

For a preview of the series from head coach Terry Rooney, check out AlumKnight Live on 740-AM Thursday night from 7-8 p.m., then listen in to The Beat of Sports on ESPN 1080 Friday starting at 9 a.m.

Game Notes in PDF Format

Friday - Orlando, Fla. - 6:30 p.m.
Saturday - Orlando, Fla. - 4 p.m.
Sunday - Orlando, Fla. - 12 p.m.
Rice - 21-14 Overall, 6-3 C-USA
UCF - 23-12 Overall, 5-4 C-USA
Jay Bergman Field (2,230)
Rice leads, 14-3
Live Stats:
Live Video:
UCFAthletics.com and 740-AM (Marc Daniels on the Call)

This Weekend's Festivities
-Fans are encouraged to come out to all three games during UCF Hall of Fame Weekend - Friday 6:30 p.m., Saturday 4 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m. - in an effort to break the all-time series attendance record of 5,582 set last year vs. Virginia Commonwealth.
-Part of Baseball Alumni Weekend, all former players will be honored when they take the field Friday night.
-Dugout Club committee members Laurence Heisler, Steve McClellan, Eric Golden, Jimmy Still, Chuck Graham and Jim Spaeth will be throwing out the first pitch Friday.
-Also Friday: First 200 fans receive a free UCF baseball card set.
-Friday-Sunday: Bring five empty Coca-Cola products (cans or bottles) and receive a free UCF baseball/Coca-Cola recycles T-shirt - Enter to win 2010 football student season tickets (three winners each day).

UCF vs. Stetson Recap
-The Knights won their eighth-straight over Stetson April 13, as Shane Brown went 3-for-4 and fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle.
-Chris Duffy went yard for the 14th time in a game that featured 13 combined pitchers.

Upcoming Opponent
-Ranked in the top 10 to open the season, Rice got off to a 12-12 start through its first 24 outings. But since then the Owls (21-14) are 9-2, including two wins at Tulane and a pair of midweek victories before heading to Orlando.
-Third baseman Anthony Rendon has been solid all year, crushing 13 homers and posting a .362 average to lead the offense which holds a .313 mark overall.
-Sophomore lefty Taylor Wall gets the start in the opener vs. UCF southpaw Johnny Sedlock, and Wall owns a 1-4 record with a 4.20 ERA.

The Series
-UCF has won each of the last two Friday-night games vs. Rice. The last time the Owls visited Orlando, the Knights claimed a 4-2 win in game one only to drop the final two outings, each by just one run, as Rice owns a 14-3 all-time lead in the series.

Can't Go Higher Than That
-There are 301 teams at the D-I level. That means there are 903 starting outfielders in the nation, at the minimum. And according to Yahoo! Sports, UCF has one of the best of the bunch.
-Throughout the year Kendall Rogers has moved Chris Duffy up his top-10, but on April 14 the senior finally secured the No. 1 position.

Off and Running
-With 21 newcomers, no one was quite sure how long it would take for the Knights to gel. But lately they certainly have come together.
-UCF is 16-5 in its last 21 games, while its off to its best start in C-USA at 5-4 (joined the league in 2006).

Turn it Around
-With 23, UCF has already surpassed its win total from last season.
-UCF, Oregon and UC Davis have already posted the three biggest turnarounds in major college baseball this season. The two programs are the only ones in the six top conferences to have either equaled or surpassed their win total from 2009.
-The Knights were 22-35 in Terry Rooney's first year.
-And the Ducks were 14-42 last season in its first year of baseball since 1981 (they are currently 21-11).
-Meanwhile the Aggies are 14-14 after going 13-42.

Not Many Like UCF
-UCF is one of only four teams in the top six baseball conferences to have two .400 hitters (minimum 25 starts) in Chris Duffy (.447) and Shane Brown (.443). Arizona has three hitters above .400, while Cal State Fullerton and Pacific have two.
-Meanwhile, among those with a minimum of 15 starts, the Knights have eight .300 hitters. Only nine schools among C-USA, ACC, Big 12, SEC, Big West and Pac-10 can make that claim.

Tracking the Newcomers
-In the offseason, the Knights' recruiting class was head coach Terry Rooney's first at UCF, and it went on to be ranked in the top 10 in the nation by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. So far the experts are being proven accurate.
-UCF typically has been using 10 different players to fill out its starting nine, and seven of them are newcomers. That group consists of Ryan Breen, Chris Taladay, Derek Luciano, Darnell Sweeney, Ronnie Richardson, Austin Johnston and Jonathan Griffin, and they have combined to go 247-for-749 for a .330 average with 22 homers.
-Toeing the rubber, all six pitchers who have tossed at least 30.0 innings are new to the program: Joe Rogers, Johnny Sedlock, Owen Dew, Chase Bradford, Nick Cicio and Brian Adkins.

The Improvement of UCF - Part I - Hitting
-The sticks claim a .343 team batting average through 35 games, as the all-time school mark is .335 set by the nationally-ranked 2001 squad.
-Since that 2001 campaign, the Knights have not posted a single-season average above .315, including four years below .300. Last year they finished with a .297 mark at the dish.

The Improvement of UCF - Part II - Pitching
-Last season the Knights completed the year with a 7.47 ERA and 13 saves. In 2010, they own a 5.85 ERA with 12 saves.
-Meanwhile, the nine UCF pitchers who have worked at least 10.0 innings this year have combined for a 5.04 ERA.