Baseball Set to Face No. 17 Oklahoma State Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU

by James Warnick

ARLINGTON, Texas – Thanks to an opening-round extra-inning victory over Cincinnati on Tuesday, the UCF baseball team has moved on and will face the No. 2 seed and 17th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. CT at the 2024 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship.

The contest will be televised on ESPNU. Marc Daniels and Stephen Branca will also be on the call on the radio on 96.9 The Game, and live stats can be followed by visiting

The eighth-seeded Knights (34-18) opened their inaugural Big 12 Championship run with a 6-5 11-inning victory in the opening round of the tournament on Tuesday thanks to three home runs from senior catcher Danny Neri. The three homers marked a Big 12 Championship single-game record and was the first three-home run game of Neri’s career.

Neri opened his record-breaking outing with a solo homer in the second to help the Black and Gold jump out to an early 2-0 lead over the fifth-seeded Bearcats. He then added his second of the game with a two-run shot in the seventh to give UCF a 5-1 advantage. After Cincinnati managed to tie things up with a trio of ninth inning runs to force extra innings, Neri pulled a line-drive solo homer down the rightfield line with two outs in the top of the 11th for a late go-ahead shot for his third.

Five different Knight pitchers pitched well in the contest, as All-Big 12 Second Team honoree Dom Stagliano started on the mound and retired the first eight batters he faced. He also didn’t allow a hit or a run off of him until the fourth inning. He finished by allowing just one run on three hits while striking out three over four-plus innings. Dominic Castellano then came on and tossed 2.2 innings of scoreless relief with five strikeouts. Kris Sosnowski also pitched well in the late innings by tossing two-plus innings of solid relief. Spencer Bauer earned the win by going an inning and a third to move to 2-1, while Kyle Kramer tossed a scoreless 11th inning to record his second save of the season.

Offensively, Neri led the way by going 4-for-6 with the three homers, four runs batted in, and three runs scored. The four-hits and four runs batted in marked single-game career highs for Neri. Jack Zyska, Andrew Williamson, and Braden Calise also had multiple hits in the game for the Knights by collecting two hits apiece.

Senior right-handed pitcher Ben Vespi will get the start on the mound for the Knights on Thursday night. Vespi will enter with a 4-3 record, 4.11 ERA, and a team-best 66 strikeouts in 70.0 innings.

About Oklahoma State

The Cowboys earned the second seed in the tournament after going 19-9 in conference play on the year. OSU currently holds a 37-16 overall record after knocking off the No. 10 seed Texas Tech by a score of 7-2 on Wednesday night. The Pokes are ranked as high as No. 17 this week on the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and also tabbed No. 19 by D1Baseball.

All-Big 12 Second Team performer Nolan Schubart leads Oklahoma State with a .353 batting average and a team-high 17 home runs. All-Big 12 First Team honoree Carson Benge is next with a .333 clip and team-leading tallies of 23 doubles, 57 RBIs, and 63 runs scored. He is also second on the team in homers with 15. First team all-conference performer Brian Holliday paces the starting rotation with a 5-3 record, 3.32 ERA, and 111 strikeouts in 95.0 innings.

All-Time Series History

Thursday’s contest will mark the eighth all-time meeting between the two teams. UCF holds a 5-2 all-time advantage after taking two of three from the Cowboys in Orlando in mid-March. The Knights also hold a 3-1 advantage in neutral-site meetings.

On Deck

The winner of Thursday’s tournament contest will move on to Friday’s single-elimination semifinal round at 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. CT, while the loser will head to an elimination game on Friday at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT. To view more about the Big 12 Championship, visit