Offense Surges Again as UCF Sweeps Samford with 12-2 Sunday Victory

by James Warnick

ORLANDO – Andrew Sundean went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and Andrew Estrella belted out his second grand slam in as many days to help UCF sweep the weekend series over Samford with a 12-2 run-rule victory on Sunday afternoon at John Euliano Park.

Pitching was also key on the day for the Knights (5-0), as starter Dominic Castellano and reliever Dom Stagliano combined for 10 strikeouts over 6.0 combined innings of work. The Dom’s, along with fellow reliever Najer Victor, surrendered just three hits and two runs on the day. The staff also issued just one free pass in the contest.

“From pitch one, it looked like Dominic was in complete command of everything that he was doing. Their leadoff hitter was giving us troubles all weekend, and he was able to kind of set the tone for us by punching him out to start the game,” head coach Rich Wallace said. “Overall, our staff did a great job of commanding their stuff and executing pitches on both sides of the plate and I’m proud of their efforts.”

After Andrew Brait and Lex Boedicker reached via free passes in the first, Sundean smacked a double to left to drive in Brait and give the Knights an early 1-0 lead. Jack Zyska then followed with a hard ground ball to the right side to bring home Boedicker from third and make it 2-0.

With two outs in the bottom of the second, the Black and Gold tacked on a run on an RBI single from Brait to extend its lead to 3-0. After Castellano struck out the side in the top of the third, the Knights added three more runs in the last half of the frame to make it 6-0. With Boedicker aboard, Sundean ripped a two-run home run to the opposite field. With two outs and Andrew Williamson leading from first, AJ Nessler then doubled to center to bring around Williamson and give the Knights the six-run cushion.

The Bulldogs (4-3) got on the board in the top of the fourth via a sacrifice fly and added a solo homer from Andrew Bennett in the fifth to make it a 6-2 score.

UCF got a run back in the bottom of the fifth to extend its advantage to 7-2. Williamson led off the frame with a walk and Estrella later drove him home with an RBI single through the left side. With two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth, Estrella then accomplished a rare feat by belting out his second grand slam in as many days with booming fly ball to right to make it 11-2.

The Black and Gold then put the game away in the seventh thanks to a walk-off run-rule RBI double to left off the bat of Sundean.  

“Offensively, it was great to see the competitiveness of our at-bats and the length of them. If we’re doing that, then we are a tough lineup for the opposition to work their way through—one through nine,” Wallace added. “The guys did a nice job of stacking at-bat-after-at-bat-after at-bat and it was nice to see.”

Behind Sundean’s 3-for-4 and four-RBI performance, Estrella went 2-for-3 with five RBIs. Brait, Williamson and Mikey Kluska also recorded multiple-hit outings on the day, while Brait, Zyska and Nessler also drove in runs.

On the mound, Castellano tossed 4.0 solid innings in which he gave up just one run on two hits while striking out five. Castellano earned his first win of the season in the process to move to 1-0. Stagliano followed and too fanned five while allowing just one hit and one run over 2.0 stellar innings. Victor then finished things off by tossing a scoreless seventh. Samford starter Will Lynch was tagged with the loss to drop to 0-1 on the season.

For the series, UCF outscored Samford 39-11. The Knights also outhit the Bulldogs 41-15. The three-game sweep marks UCF’s first sweep since it took three games from Dartmouth at home last March (March 17-19, 2023).

The Knights will next head to Boca Raton for a Tuesday midweek at Florida Atlantic at 6:30 p.m. Following the contest, UCF will return to John Euliano Park to welcome South Florida for a three-game series Friday to Sunday, March 1-3.