Baseball Hosts South Florida to Open Conference Play

Date: Friday – Sunday, March 31-April 2
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Site: John Euliano Park
Time: 6 p.m. (Fri.) | 6 p.m. (Sat.) | 1 p.m. (Sun.)
Watch - ESPN+: Friday | Saturday | Sunday
Listen: FM 96.9 The Game
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Pitching Preview
Friday: LHP Ethan Brown (USF) vs. RHP Ruddy Gomez (UCF)
Saturday: RHP Hunter Mink (USF) vs. LHP Jacob Marlowe (UCF)
Sunday: RHP Jack Cebert (USF) vs. RHP Dom Stagliano (UCF)
Ruddy Gomez is making is seventh Friday start for the Knights. He has a team-leading 2.89 ERA on the season and has fanned 42 batters through 37.1 innings of work. In his six starts, Gomez has allowed 12 earned runs and given up nine walks. Gomez has set career records in three games back-to-back. He went 7.2 innings with 11 strikeouts against Troy, setting a career high in both, then struck out 12 the next week in only 6.0 innings against Dartmouth, and against Maryland last Friday, Gomez went 8.0 innings. He was named to the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll this week for his second time this season.

Jacob Marlowe is back in the weekend rotation for the Knights after making his first career weekend start last week against Maryland. The sophomore left-hander broke his single-game strikeout record against Maryland, fanning six, and replacing the record he set less than two weeks prior against No. 21 Florida State. With 27.2 innings pitched on the season in 8 appearances, Marlowe has surrendered only five walks with 27 hits and 13 earned runs.

Dom Stagliano is making his third weekend start in Black and Gold. Over 31.1 innings of work, Stagliano has a 5.17 ERA with 27 strikeouts. He's allowed 30 hits and given up 18 earned runs. He has been recognized twice in the American Athletic Conference weekly awards, once winning Pitcher of the Week and, last week, he was named to the weekly Honor Roll.
Ethan Brown is in his second season with the Bulls and will make his fourth start of the season on Friday. The redshirt senior left-hander has a 4.82 ERA through 28.0 innings, walking 11 and allowing 17 earned runs. With an impressive 37 strikeouts, he has nearly met his previous season mark of 45 strikeouts in 47.2 innings. Hunter Mink will get the start on Saturday for the Bulls with his 5.59 ERA. In his most recent outing, Mink went 6 shutout innings with only three hits in USF's combined shutout of VCU. Jack Cebert's 3.79 ERA is across 4 starts and 19.0 innings in which he's given up 21 hits, eight earned runs and only three walks with 18 strikeouts on the season.
The War on I-4
Knights baseball trails the Bulls by one game in the all-time series, 78-77*. Last year, UCF swept South Florida at John Euliano Park and took four of their six meetings on the season.

In a storied rivalry that was officially dubbed the "War on I-4" in 2016, UCF and South Florida's rivalry series brings together two impassioned communities divided by the I-4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando. Keeping a composite score across all varsity programs at both universities, UCF holds a 27-18 lead for the 2022-23 athletic year. With each baseball game worth one additional War on I-4 point, the Knights look to add three in the opening weekend of conference play.

American Conference Play
Conference play opens in the American Athletic Conference on Friday as each team has their first in-conference series. UCF sits second in the AAC standings with a 16-9 overall record, behind nationally ranked No. 8 East Carolina's 19-6 record. South Florida has a 10-16 record on the season, placing seventh in the standings, above Tulane.

Last year, UCF ended the season 14-10 in conference play and advanced to the semifinals of the AAC tournament before a heartbreaker loss to Houston in the second game of the semifinals doubleheader.

Scouting the Bulls
USF is hitting to the tune of a .270 team batting average, reaching base .349 percent of the time and slugging .394. As a team, the Bulls have combined for243 hits and 246 strikeouts through 26 games, with 64 extra base hits, 23 home runs and are 5-14 stolen bases.

J. Montes spearheads the Bulls offense, leading the team with a .333 batting average, .604 slugging percentage, eight doubles, six home runs and tied for the lead with 58 total bases. He also has only 11 strikeouts in 96 at-bats.

The Bulls have a combined 6.64 ERA, led by Friday starter Ethan Brown, and sit at a .974 fielding percentage as a team.

Scouting the Knights
UCF is 16-9 entering conference play. The Knights have a team batting average of .308. The power-hitting team ranks 13th nationally in home runs (49) and home runs per game (1.96). Eight different Knights have multiple home runs on the season including Ben McCabe, who leads with 10 and Drew Faurot and Tom Josten who each have eight.

The offense is led by five-year veteran McCabe, who, in addition to leading the team in home runs, boasts a .430 AVG with 40 hits and 20 RBI through the Knights' 25 games. McCabe is joined by Andrew Sundean, Nick Romano, Andrew Brait and John Rhys Plumlee, who are all hitting at or above .325.

UCF has a team ERA of 4.99 and a 1.41 WHIP. Defensively, the Knights have a .964 fielding percentage.

*Prior to the founding of the Varsity program, USF played the Florida Technological University (FTU) Goldsox in four matches from 1971-1972 that are included in South Florida's official record book – USF records an overall series record of 81-78 over FTU and UCF teams.