SOUTH FLORIDA – UCF WEEKEND SERIES
Date: Friday – Sunday, April 21-23
Location: Tampa, Fla.
Site: USF Baseball Stadium
Time: 6:30 p.m. (Fri.) | 2 p.m. (Sat.) | 1 p.m. (Sun.)
Watch - ESPN+: Friday | Saturday | Sunday
Listen: FM 96.9 The Game
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
The UCF Baseball team takes to the road, making the trip to Tampa, Florida for the second War On I-4 weekend against AAC rival South Florida. Earlier in the season, UCF and USF met at John Euliano Park to open American Conference play. South Florida took the series, winning the first two games, but UCF avoided the sweep with a 12-run performance in the series finale. Last year, UCF won the series 6-4 with a sweep at home and 1-2 weekend on the road.
The War on I-4
Knights baseball trails the Bulls by two games in the all-time series, 80-78*.
Officially dubbed the "War on I-4" in 2016, storied in-state rivalry series brings together UCF and South Florida's impassioned communities divided by the I-4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa. Keeping a composite score across all varsity programs at both universities, UCF clinched their 7th War on I-4 all-sport title with a win in women's tennis earlier this week. With each baseball game worth one additional War on I-4 point, the Knights look to add three in their second meeting with the Bulls.
*Prior to the founding of the varsity program at UCF, USF played the Florida Technological University (FTU) Goldsox in four matches across 1971-1972 that are included in South Florida's official record book – USF claims an overall record of 83-79 over FTU/UCF club/varsity teams.
Scouting the Bulls
South Florida is 16-22 overall and 5-4 in The American. The Bulls are hitting to the tune of a .280 team batting average, with a .365 on-base percentage and slugging .425. As a team, USF has combined for 366 hits and 342 strikeouts through 38 games, with 104 extra base hits and 41 home runs. In 28 attempts, Bulls baserunners have stolen 14 bases.
Five Bulls have a team batting average at or above .310, led by freshman Eric Snow's .336 average. Daniel Cantu is hitting .320, tied with Drew Brutcher's mark, and leads or is tied for the team lead in nearly every other offensive category, including hits (49), doubles (12), triples (1), home runs (9), RBI (36), total bases (90), slugging percentage (.588), and hit by pitch (11).
USF has a combined 6.20 ERA, led by sophomore Jack Cebert's 3.95 mark, and sits at a .972 fielding percentage as a team.
Scouting the Knights
UCF has won four of their last five games, taking back-to-back midweek victories from Stetson and winning The American weekend series against Memphis, 2-1. In the AAC, UCF is 3-6, falling in series against USF and ECU to open conference play. The Knights have a team batting average of .308, with four players hitting above .300. The power-hitting team ranks 18th nationally in home runs (65) and 23rd in home runs per game (1.76). Eight different Knights have multiple home runs on the season including Ben McCabe, who leads the team with 12, and Tom Josten and freshman Drew Faurot who have 10 apiece.
The offense is led by five-year veteran McCabe, who, in addition to leading the team in home runs, boasts a .390 AVG with 55 hits and 28 RBI through the Knights' 37 games. McCabe is joined by Andrew Sundean, Andrew Brait and John Rhys Plumlee, who are all hitting at or above .300.
Climbing the all-time ranks in his fifth year with UCF, McCabe is closing in on the all-time records in home runs (No. 3) and RBI (No. 7). He's also just three runs away from taking over second place in the American Conference all-time runs record, currently with 149 – first place is held by ECU's Kane Hoover and is an active record of 160.
UCF has a team ERA of 5.02 and a 1.41 WHIP. The Knights' pitching staff is led by Ruddy Gomez who has recorded five wins over nine starts, leading the team with 62 strikeouts over 56.0 innings of work. He holds this season's single-game highs in both innings pitched (8.0) and strikeouts (12). Defensively, the Knights have a .965 fielding percentage.
The Knights return home to host Houston for a three-game American Conference weekend series on April 28-30 at John Euliano Park. The Black and Gold will host midweek rematch against North Florida May 2 before kicking off an eight-game road trip to Tulane, Wright State, Ohio State and Cincinnati from May 6-14.
SOUTH FLORIDA – UCF WEEKEND SERIES