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Baseball Concludes Regular Season with Third-Straight AAC Series Win

ORLANDO – Wrapping up its regular season at home, the UCF baseball team secured its third-straight American Athletic Conference series victory Saturday against Wichita State. Behind an outstanding no-hit, 10-strikeout performance from the bullpen and a quartet of RBI from senior Ben McCabe and Andrew Sundean, the Knights took the series finale against the Shockers 5-4.

UCF improved to 32-24 on its season and 12-12 in the AAC, securing the 4-seed for the conference tournament. The Shockers fell to 30-23 and 13-11 in the American.

Prior to the game, the Knights honored five seniors who would play their final game at John Euliano Park. McCabe, Tom Josten, Nick Romano, Ruddy Gomez and Zach Chappell were congratulated by Knight Nation, who showed out for a top-five 2023 crowd, and thanked by the team for their leadership and contribution as Knights.

"We knew that this meant nothing in terms of the standings, but it meant a lot to the five seniors and I think we did a great job honoring them and playing really well." head coach Greg Lovelady said. "We don't know how many times these five guys are going to put the jersey on. It's a matter of trying to continue to honor them every day and see how long we can do it."

McCabe opened the scoring for the Knights ripping an 0-2 double into center field to score Andrew Brait, who was hit by the second pitch of the contest. Down in the count, Sundean took the 0-2 pitch deep to left center to add a third leadoff-inning homer. The two-run shot tied Sundean at 6th. In the bottom of the second, McCabe drove in another Knight hit by a pitch, notching his second RBI and plating fellow senior Josten to take an early 4-1 lead.

Dominic Castellano got the nod on the mound, making his first start with the Knights after 32 appearances in relief. He limited Wichita State to one run through the first three innings, going three up, three down in the third. John Rhys Plumlee made an outstanding throw from deep center field to throw a runner out at first, turning two for the Knights.

The Shockers responded with three runs in the fourth, but in the bottom of the inning, Drew Faurot hit the go-ahead home run that would end up the game-winner. Faurot led off the inning, hammering the first pitch from Wichita State's Candiotti into the Knights' bullpen for his 15th home run of the season to etch his name in the record books. With the solo shot, Faurot broke the freshman home run record, set in 2017 by Rylan Thomas, and broke into the top 10 in single-season home runs in UCF history, tying at ninth.

Facing the best offense in the league, Nick Vieira and Zach Chappell stunned in the latter half of the game, combining for 5.1 hitless innings and no runs to seal the game for the Black and Gold.

In Chappell's final appearance at John Euliano Park, he worked a perfect eighth inning and struck out three to earn his first save as a Knight.

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"You're only as hot as your next game in the tournament, so we've got to come out Tuesday morning ready to go – be up and at it early, embrace the 9 a.m. game, embrace honoring the seniors," Lovelady said.

The Knights travel to Clearwater, Fla. for the American Conference Tournament. The Knights will kick off the tournament, playing in the first game against Cincinnati at 9 a.m. Tuesday. You can find more information on the tournament scheduling and ticketing here.