May 21, 2007
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (www.ucfathletics.com) - In its second year in the league, UCF will make its debut at the Conference USA Championship on Wednesday. The Knights, seeded eighth, will meet top seed Rice on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at Clark-LeClair Stadium. East Carolina is hosting the championship.
The C-USA Championship is a double-elimination event. If UCF falls against Rice, the Knights will meet the loser of the No. 4 Houston-No. 5 Memphis contest on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. If UCF wins, the team will meet Houston or Memphis at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
UCF will be playing in a conference tournament for the first time since 2005, when it went 2-2 at the Atlantic Sun Championship. All-time, the Knights are 38-18 in league championship play.
Sophomore Mitch Herold will start on the hill for the Knights. Herold is 0-2 this season, but has recorded 32 strikeouts.
UCF - 26-30 Overall
Rice - 45-11
Clark-LeClair Stadium (3,000)
Rice leads, 9-1
Radio and Live Stats
The hottest team in the country, Rice sits at No. 2 in the nation and brings an 18-game winning streak into the C-USA Championship. The Owls have won 26 of their last 27 outings, and their only two league losses came at the hands of Southern Miss and Houston, both of which were the first game of the series.
Owners of one of the 16 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, Joe Savery, Rice has a .306 team average and a 2.70 ERA. The Owls have twice as many homers (42-21) and stolen bases (46-23) as their opponent, and on the mound, the pitching staff has walked just 184 hitters compared to having 434 strikeouts.
With a three-game sweep of UCF April 20-22 in Houston, Rice has a 9-1 advantage over UCF. The Knights' lone victory came in 1998, a 4-3 win at Rice. The only time the two teams met on a neutral field was an 8-1 Owl triumph in Kissimmee, Fla., in 1999.
Duff-Man Says `Oh Yeah'
Chris Duffy made Jay Bergman Field his own little paradise vs. Tulane April 27. Batting fifth in the order, the third baseman sent a towering solo homer over the scoreboard in right-center in the third, then tied the game at 6-6 with a two-out, two-run blast to right field in the seventh to help the Knights prevail, 7-6.
Duffy moved his handy work to the road when UCF traveled to No. 28 Stetson May 8. The freshman took Robby Donovan deep in the fourth inning, sending a two-run job well over the wall in right. Duffy eventually went 3-for-4 with four RBI in the win. He then added a two-run home run in the series finale at ECU May 13, driving a 3-1 pitch over two different fences and onto the football practice fields.
When the Knights returned to Jay Bergman Field May 17 vs. Marshall, Duffy hit the game-winning two-run homer in the seventh inning to hand UCF an 8-6 victory. He was then part of a late comeback when he hit another tie-run homer in the eighth inning to cut the Marshall lead in half, 7-5. The Knights eventually defeated the Herd, 8-7.
In all, the left-handed hitter went deep in three-straight games May 13-18, and in four of the last seven outings, five of his last 10 and seven of his last 14. Also, his last four long balls have been when there was a runner on base.
Brooks Saves Record-Breaker for Final Home Game
With an appearance against Marshall May 19, the final home game of his career, senior Brian Brooks broke the UCF all-time record for career relief appearances with 80. Jason Arnold owned the record when he pitched in 79 games out of the pen from 1998-2001.
Brooks also ranks in second with 85 overall appearances. Arnold claims that record with 98 in four years with the Knights.
The Power Station
Eleven of UCF's 24 home runs have come in the month of May, which is 46 percent of this year's total long ball output. Because the Knights played only four home games this month, nine of those 11 dingers have come on the road.
Everyone Finding a Rhythm
This year was the first time since 2000 (Dustin Brisson - 22, Ivan Trujillo - 14, Rich Wallace - 12, Jason Graham - 11) that the Knights had four players record hitting streaks of at least 10 games. Kiko Vazquez, Ryan Richardson, Matt Horwath and Tyson Auer all had a double-digit hitting streak going until they saw them come to an end during the Marshall series May 17-19.
From the first to the fourth innings, opponents have been outscoring the Knights 193-105. However from the fifth to the eighth frames, UCF has a 168-150 advantage.