Countdown to Opening Knight: Season Preview - Pitching Staff

Feb. 16, 2012

="" alt="Knight Head" border="0" class="imported"> Read John Denton's Knights Insider | ="" alt="Twitter Logo" border="0" class="imported">Follow us on Twitter | ="" alt="Facebook Logo" border="0" class="imported">Get social with the Knights on Facebook

By Eric DeSalvo

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The final part of UCFAthletics.com's season preview of the 2012 UCF baseball team focuses on the pitching staff. The 2012 squad will feature many of the same faces from 2011 along with impact newcomers.

In Alphabetical Order
-Jr. Brian Adkins - Veteran lefty who works with a quick pace and eats up innings. Led the Knights in 2011 with 88 IP
-Sr. Ray Hanson - 11-game starter in first year at UCF in 2011 who nailed down four wins, including a complete game
-So. Ben Lively - C-USA All-Freshman weekend starter for the Knights with electric stuff
-RJr. Chris Matulis - Will make UCF debut on Sunday after sitting out due to transfer rules (LSU) and Tommy John surgery in 2011
-Fr. Garrett Nuss - After stellar career at Mount Dora, named top prospect in Florida Collegiate Summer League
-Fr. Eric Skoglund - Lanky lefty that was drafted in 16th round of the MLB Draft by Pittsburgh

Middle Relief
In Alphabetical Order
-Sr. Bryan Brown - Four-year contributor appeared in 16 games in 2011, recording a 2-1 record in 30 innings
-Sr. Matt Collins - Appeared in 11 games during first year at UCF with 13 Ks in 13.1 innings pitched
-RSo. Gregg Cooke - 6-foot-7 righty out of the bullpen
-RJr. D.J. Hicks - Everyday first baseman will continue to see time out of the bullpen
-Fr. Harrison Hukari - St. Petersburg High School rookie who earned four letters as a pitcher and first baseman
-Jr. Shawn McDorman - Walk-on from Pensacola College
-Fr. Ryan Meyer - Oviedo native was drafted in 32nd round of the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles
-Fr. JoMarcos Woods - Rookie speedster could play all outfield slots as well as come out of the bullpen

Set Up/Closer
In Alphabetical Order
-Jr. Roman Madrid - McLennan CC transfer that was named first time all-conference as a closer
-Jr. Jimmy Reed - Third Skagit Valley College lefty that recorded a program-record 16 saves and 38 relief appearances
-Jr. Ronnie Richardson - Natural centerfielder that appeared in five games as a reliever in 2011
-Jr. Joe Rogers - NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list with 17 career saves as a Knight

It is no coincidence that UCF made its first NCAA Regional in 2011 after a seven-year hiatus on the heels of its best pitching performance since 2005. Last year, the Knights' staff improved once more under Rooney with a 4.14 ERA, and much of the 2011 crew returns to the fold in 2012.

Junior Brian Adkins (Orlando, Fla.) will get the call on Opening Knight and gives head coach Terry Rooney a reliable arm that will eat up innings throughout the season. Joining Adkins in the weekend rotation will be 2011 C-USA All-Freshman Ben Lively (Gulf Breeze, Fla.) who collected a 5-1 record, while stringing together a solid summer in the Cal Ripken League.

Sunday will see LSU-transfer Chris Matulis (Boynton Beach, Fla.) take the mound for the first time in his UCF career, and first overall appearance since 2010. The starting rotation will also likely see senior Ray Hanson (Long Beach, Calif.) return after he started 11 games in 2011 and compiled a 4-2 record.

Both D.J. Hicks (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) and Ronnie Richardson (Eagle Lake, Fla.) will see time out of the bullpen while they start fulltime in the field. Hicks, C-USA's Preseason Player of the Year, earned All-America honors for his work with the bat and on the mound in 2011. Richardson, who also joined Hicks on the All-C-USA Preseason Team, could see an increased number of appearances from his five a year ago.

Along with veterans Bryan Brown (Winter Springs, Fla.), Matt Collins (DeLand, Fla.) and Joe Rogers (Winter Haven, Fla.), the pitching staff will see an influx of impact rookies and junior-college transfers.

Potential freshmen starters Eric Skoglund (Sarasota, Fla.) and Garrett Nuss (Sorrento, Fla.) both put their professional careers on hold when opting to pitch at UCF. Skoglund provides an intimidating presence from the left side at 6-foot-7, while Nuss came into the ninth innings of the Black and Gold World Series and showed off an impressive repertoire of pitches.

The late innings for UCF will see Rogers assume his closing role. The third-year southpaw is only 10 saves away from the school record (27). With the loss of situational-lefty Nick Cicio, Rooney hopes to mix and match both RHP Roman Madrid (Victoria, Texas) and Jimmy Reed (Spokane, Wash.) to help nail down games. Both junior-college transfers arrive in Orlando with closing experience and have strung together solid fall and spring camps.

Opening Knight is quickly approaching, as UCF will open its newly renovated ballpark against Long Island this Friday at 6:30 p.m. in game one of a three-game weekend series. The game is FREE for everyone who makes it out to the UCF baseball complex. Season and single-game tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (407) 823-1000 or by visiting UCFAthletics.com's Tickets section.