UCF Records 19 Hits and Scores 11 Runs to Top FAU 11-6

by James Warnick

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Cade Boxrucker pitched five strong innings and the UCF offense reeled off 11 unanswered runs on its way to defeating Florida Atlantic 11-6 on Tuesday night at FAU Baseball Stadium.

The Knights, who are receiving votes on this week’s NCBWA Top 25 poll, improve to 6-0 on the season with the win. The 6-0 start marks UCF’s best start to a season since 2017 when the Black and Gold opened with a 7-0 mark.  

“We took our operation on the road again, we showed up, and did what we needed to do to prepare for the game. I liked our energy in the pregame preparation, and it carried right over into the game,” head UCF coach Rich Wallace said. “Cade Boxrucker gave up the early run but pitched through it and responded with four straight one-two-three innings. I couldn’t have asked for more. Overall, I was pleased with our performance and we’re looking forward to getting home and welcoming South Florida to town this weekend.”

The starter Boxrucker went 5.0 innings and gave up just one run on two hits while striking out six. After allowing just two baserunners to reach in the first, Boxrucker then retired the side in order in each of the next four innings as he didn’t allow a runner to reach base off of him the rest of his outing. With the stellar performance, Boxrucker earned his first win in a UCF uniform (1-0), while relievers Wiley Hartley, Spencer Bauer, Josh Fernald, and Nick Vieira all pitched well in relief to finish it off.

Offensively, the Black and Gold tallied a season-high 19 hits in the ballgame, as 10 different Knights recorded hits. Of the group, seven of the 10 posted multiple hits and Andrew Estrella topped the group by going 3-for-5 with three RBIs. All three of his runs batted in came on Estrella’s third home run in the past three games, as he smacked out a three-run round tripper to center field in the third inning.

With the Owls holding to a 1-0 lead in early stages, Jack Zyska singled and later came in to score on an RBI single to right from Mikey Kluska to tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the second.

With Boxrucker having struck out four through just two innings of work and looking strong on the mound, UCF loaded the bases for Andrew Sundean with nobody out in the third. Sundean started a seven-run inning with a two-run double to right. Zyska followed with a sac fly to center and Andrew Williamson doubled home another run to make it 5-1. Two batters later, Estrella continued to swing his hot bat by belting out the deep three-run homer to center to cap the seven-run frame and give the Knights an 8-1 advantage.

The Black and Gold tacked on another run in the fourth. Lex Boedicker singled, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and came in to score on a hard-hit ball on the right side from Sundean to make it 9-1. After a scoreless fifth, the Knights then took a 10-run advantage in the sixth as Danny Neri drove home two more runs with a two-out two-run single to left field.

After being shutout since the first inning, the FAU offense then got a run back in the last of the seventh on a solo homer from Dyla LaPointe to make it 11-2. The Owls then tacked on four unearned runs in the ninth to finish with six runs on the night.

Behind Estrella’s 3-for-5 performance, Boedicker too had three hits as he went 3-for-6 with two runs scored. Sundean also went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, while Matt Prevesk, Andrew Brait, Zyska and Williamson all added two hits apiece.

With the 11 runs, UCF has now scored 50 runs over its past four games. The Knights have also recorded an impressive tally of 60 hits during the stretch.

The Black and Gold will now return home to host South Florida for a three-game non-conference series Friday to Sunday at John Euliano Park. Friday and Saturday’s games will begin at 6 p.m. while Sunday’s is set for 1 p.m. Friday and Sunday’s games will air live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.