Rain Doesn’t Damper Offense as UCF Takes Opener, 18-3

by James Warnick

ORLANDO – After sitting through a near two-hour rain delay, the UCF offense picked things up right where it left off en route to pulling out an 18-3 run-rule victory over Samford in the series opener on Friday night at John Euliano Park.

All nine starters recorded a hit and seven of the nine drove in runs, as the Knights (3-0) scored a season-high 18 runs in the contest. Senior Andrew Brait led the way by going 3-for-5 with a homer, a double and a game-high five RBIs, while Andrew Estrella (2-for-2), Matt Prevesk (2-for-2) and Mikey Kluska (2-for-4) all collected multiple hits and drove in multiple runs for the Black and Gold.

“The team was ready to go from pitch number one. You could see that by the at-bats early in the game and it continued with the sustained offense here tonight,” head coach Rich Wallace said. “I was also pleased with Vespi’s start on the mound. His fastball command was good, and he did a nice job of pitching out of jams when he needed to. Overall, it was a well-played game by our guys and we’re hoping we can carry some momentum into Saturday’s contest.”

Down a run in the first, the UCF offense took advantage of a pair of Samford errors en route to scoring three runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 3-1 advantage. With two runners aboard and nobody out, Lex Boedicker drove home the first run with an RBI groundout to tie the game. Andrew Sundean then brought in the second run by reaching on an error and the third came in on a sacrifice fly off the bat of freshman Andrew Williamson to make it 3-1. Williamson’s sac fly marked the first RBI of his college career.

The Knights then got back-to-back-to-back singles in the second from Estrella, AJ Nessler and Prevesk to make it 4-1. The Bulldogs threatened in the third by loading the bases with no outs, but Vespi responded by retiring the next three batters he faced to keep it a 4-1 score.

In the last of the third, the Black and Gold tacked on three more runs to extend its lead to 7-1. With one out and two runners on base, Kluska tripled to right to drive home two and make it 6-1. Estrella then followed by dropping down a safety squeeze bunt to bring in Kluska give the Knights the six-run advantage.

The Knights then loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, and after waiting out an hour and 56-minute rain delay, Prevesk worked a bases-loaded walk to bring in the first run of the frame. Brait then followed by banging a two-run double off the leftfield wall to make it 10-1 and Boedicker capped the five-run inning with a two-run single to right to extend the lead to 12-1.

After the Bulldogs got a pair of runs back in the top of the sixth, but UCF answered with a six-spot in the last of the frame to extend its lead to 18-3. With the bases full and nobody out, Kluska drove in a run with an RBI single and Estrella followed with a two-run single to make it 15-3. With two on and two outs, Brait then hit a three-run bomb to deep left to cap the scoring on the evening for the Knights.  

Senior starter Ben Vespi went 5.0 innings and gave up just three hits and one run while striking out a pair on his way to recording his first win of the season (1-0). Wiley Hartley and Nick Vieira followed by each tossing an inning of solid relief on the mound for the Knights. Samford’s Brooks Rice was tagged with the loss to drop to 1-1 on the young season.    

The series will continue on Saturday, as game two is scheduled for 6 p.m. The third and final game of the weekend will follow at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Live stats will be available for both games by visiting