Knights Record 3-2 Walk-Off Win Over USF in Series Opener

by Hailey Traina

ORLANDO – UCF tied it in the eighth and won it in the 10th to move to 7-0 as it defeated South Florida 3-2 in its first extra-inning contest of the season on Friday night John Euliano Park.

Deadlocked at 2-2 after nine innings, the Knights rallied in the 10th to record the walk-off victory. Chase Centala retired the side in order in the top of the 10th and Andrew Brait led off the bottom of the frame with a leadoff walk. He then moved into scoring position via a balk and Lex Boedicker drove him in with the game-winning RBI single through the left side to give the Knights the 3-2 walk-off victory.

“The team is a loose group but a focused group. You can see that in the dugout, there was no panic here tonight,” head coach Rich Wallace said. “This is a fun group to coach, and they truly enjoy playing and being around each other. This 100% felt like a conference series and will prepare us for weekends to come.”

Both starting pitchers, Ben Vespi and USF’s Hunter Mink, had a strong opening to the contest as the game remained scoreless through the first three innings. The Bulls (4-4) took an early lead as they put up the first two runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 2-0 lead.

Andrew Estrella knocked the ball out of the park for the fourth straight game in the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo homer to left center to cut the deficit in half at 2-1. The junior infielder tied a program record in the process by homering for the fourth consecutive contest. Jonathan Griffin was the last Knight to have done so in the 2011 season.

Dominic Castanello took the mound for the Black and Gold in the top of the sixth inning, facing six batters and not allowing any runs. Boedicker protected first base with a double play, knocking out both USF’s Rafael Batencourt and Jackson Mayo and Castellano retired the next man he faced to send it to the bottom of the sixth.

With the Bulls threatening with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning, Brait made a diving stop at third to help the Knights escape the game. In the bottom of the frame, UCF tied it as Boedicker singled, stole second, advanced to third on a ground ball to the right side from Andrew Sundean. Jack Zyska then drove him home with a sacrifice fly to right to tie the game at 2-2.

In the ninth, Centala recorded back-to-back strikeouts to keep the game tied. Centala continued to pitch well in the 10th, by retiring the Bulls in order to keep the game tied and give the Knight offense the chance to win it in the bottom of the inning.

Boedicker and Matt Prevesk tallied three hits apiece to lead the Knights offensively in the ballgame. Boedicker, Zyska and Estrella all drove in runs on the night. After tossing a strong ninth and 10th inning on the mound for the Black and Gold, Centala earned the win in relief to improve to 1-0. The right-hander struck out three over the final 2.0 innings. In all, five Knight hurlers pitched well in the contest by holding the Bulls to just two runs on five hits—Vespi (5.0 IP), Castellano (1.2 IP), Kyle Kramer (0.2 IP), Najer Victor (0.2 IP) and Centala (2.0 IP).

UCF’s 7-0 start matches the program’s best opening to a season since 2017 when it too began at 7-0.

The series will continue Saturday and Sunday at John Euliano Park. Saturday’s game will begin at 6 p.m. while Sunday’s is set for 1 p.m. Live stats will be available for Saturday’s contest at while Sunday’s game will air live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.