May 28, 2008
2008 Postseason Notes in PDF Format
For updated bio information, click on the PDF link above for the full version of the notes
2008 UCF Baseball
Overall Record: 31-27
Conference USA Record: 8-16
UCF baseball's 2008 season wrapped up May 23 and the Knights finished with a 31-27 overall record, marking the 12th time in the last 14 years they collected at least 30 victories. They also went 8-16 in Conference USA for seventh place in the league standings.
UCF's Key Victories in 2008
Of the six teams the Knights faced that advanced to the NCAA Tournament this year, they posted one win against five of them (Missouri, Southern Miss, East Carolina, Rice, Tulane). The only program they did not pick up a win versus was Houston.
Capping Off a Memorable Career
Four-year starter Tyson Auer climbed into the UCF career record books in numerous categories during his final year in a Black and Gold uniform. Here's where the center fielder finished on those charts:
At-Bats: Seventh - 738
Runs: 10th - 148
Hits: Eighth - 225
Triples: Ninth - 12
Sacrifice Flies: Eighth - 9
Sacrifice Hits: Seventh - 17
Stolen Bases: Third - 80
Stolen Base Percentage: Sixth - .833
Life is a Highway
UCF hurlers combined to strikeout 537 batters in 512.0 innings of work this season (1.049 Ks per inning). That total was the most amount of Ks for the pitching staff since the 2001 squad recorded a team-record 597 strikeouts in 557.0 innings (1.072 per inning).
Interim Head Coach Craig Cozart
Craig Cozart starting serving as UCF's Interim Head Coach on May 1. He went on to guide the Knights to a 4-8 record, highlighted by a 12-1 win over No. 27 Tulane May 4. Cozart came to the Knights as a freshman pitcher and worked four years at UCF from 1993-96 before serving as a student assistant coach in 1997. He then jumped to an assistant coach role in 1998 and was named associate head coach during the summer of 2007.
Junior Colin Arnold picked up two Conference USA postseason awards in his first year with the Knights. The transfer from Daytona Beach Community College was selected to the All-C-USA Second Team, and also earned a spot on the C-USA All-Academic Team. Joining him on the academic squad was redshirt sophomore pitcher, Mitch Houck.
Boom Shake the Room
A year after not going yard, sophomore Shane Brown put nine over the fences during the 2008 season, capped off by a two home run performance against Clemson May 17 and a two-run shot vs. Tulane in the C-USA Championship May 23. The third baseman, who started the year at first base, also cranked out a pair of homers vs. UAB May 9.
The sophomore completed his second campaign by pacing the Knights' offense in:
Batting Average: .367
Total Bases: 103
Slugging Percentage: .609
On-Base Percentage: .447
On-Base Plus Slugging: 1.056
Hit By Pitch: 14
Sacrifice Flies: 7
Record Attendance at The Berg
UCF shattered its all-time single-season attendance records in 2008. The Knights averaged 1,052 fans per game, eclipsing the previous mark of 849 set a year ago.
Overall, a total of 40,012 fans ventured to Jay Bergman Field this season, which was almost 10,000 more than the former record of 30,598 in 2007.
A standing-room only crowd of 2,397 witnessed the Knights clash with the USF Bulls April 1, breaking the old attendance record by 227 (opening day 2001). It was just the second time more than 2,000 fans took in a ballgame at UCF.
Knight Wins vs. Top-Ranked Programs
This year marked the first season since 2000 that UCF defeated two different teams that were ranked in the top 10 (No. 4 Rice, No. 5 Missouri). That season, the Black and Gold toppled No. 5 Alabama and No. 7 Florida State, both on the road.
Dating back to when Jay Bergman Field opened in 2001, UCF has notched nine wins at home against ranked teams: No. 11 Alabama in 2001 (three), No. 15 Florida Atlantic in 2003, No. 2 LSU in 2004, No. 20 Notre Dame in 2005, No. 15 TCU in 2007, No. 5 Missouri and No. 4 Rice in 2008.
The first inning was the most productive for offenses in UCF games this season. The Knights totaled 53 runs in the opening frame, the third most in any inning (56 in the second inning). Meanwhile, opponents posted 57 first-inning runs, the most in any single inning by a UCF foe.
When UCF scored in the first inning, it claimed a 19-6 record, but when an opponent plated at least one run in the first, the Knights were 10-17.
Nothin' But a Good Time
Junior Robert Lara had little trouble adjusting to Conference USA pitchers in his first season at UCF. The catcher paced the Knights in league games with a .358 average, 18 RBI, 15 walks, two sac flies and a .464 on-base percentage. Lara completed the final 15 C-USA games by posting at least one hit in 13 of them.
It took 18 hits, eight doubles and four homers, but UCF needed every one of them to defeat UAB, 13-12, May 9 in 10 innings. The 18 base knocks tied a season-high, while the eight two-baggers were just two shy of tying a school record. All eight doubles came from eight different players, while Shane Brown homered twice in a three-hit affair.
The two programs combined for 40 hits in the Knight win, marking the most hits between UCF and its opponent since the Black and Gold defeated Princeton May 25, 2001, in the NCAA Tournament. In that contest with the Tigers, UCF was outhit 22-20 but still survived in a 13-12 triumph.
We Will Party Hard
UCF smashed four homers in the victory over UAB May 9, marking the second time (Wagner March 19) it sent four balls of the wall. Eric Kallstrom was the first to go yard on a solo shot in the second, then Tyson Auer ripped a two-out three-run job to right to tie things up at 10-10 in the seventh. After falling behind 11-10 in the eighth and 12-11 in the 10th, Shane Brown answered each time with solo home runs to keep UCF alive. It was the first time Brown recorded two homers in a game during his career, and it also was the first UCF extra-inning homer since Ryan Bono hit a walk-off jack in the 10th vs. Siena March 18, 2006.
Junior Eric Kallstrom became the king of walk-offs in 2008. The shortstop had a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning for a 11-10 win vs. Monmouth March 3, 2007, then defeated Monmouth this year on March 9 on a walk-off single in the 16th inning. Two months later vs. UAB May 9, Kallstrom was at it again, notching a base hit up the middle with Ryan Richardson on third in the 10th inning for his second walk-off of 2008.
Catcher Robert Lara became the first Knight since 2005 (Dee Brown) to post at least two grand slams in the same season. The transfer from LSU delivered the first salami vs. Monmouth March 8, then added his second against USF April 8. Lara's second grand slam vs. the Bulls came in the first inning after the first three Knights reached base to open the game.
A Positive Sign
In 2006, No. 1 Rice outscored UCF 10-4 in a three-game sweep in Orlando. One year later, the No. 6 Owls swept the Knights by a 22-3 margin in Houston, then earned a 16-6 decision in the C-USA Championship. However, things would change in 2008, as UCF and No. 4 Rice tied in the runs department, 13-13, and the Knights claimed their first win over the Owls since 1998.
Nailing Down a Conference Mark
The 19-1 start for the Knights was the best beginning to a season in Conference USA history (of one-loss teams). Tulane sat atop the chart when it went 14-1 to open the 2005 campaign.
The UCF defense had a .969 team fielding percentage, committing just 67 errors on the year. The percentage ranked as the third best in school history, as the Knights did not make more than two miscues in a game in their final 27 contests.
First baseman Kiko Vazquez finally made his 2008 debut at Marshall after missing the first 40 games due to an injury. When he started his first home game vs. No. 4 Rice April 25, he treated fans to a special moment, ripping the first pitch he saw in the second inning for a homer. Vazquez eventually played in 18 games and posted three dingers and 11 RBI while hitting .278.
A Southern Feast
After UCF and Southern Miss played three scoreless innings in Hattiesburg March 22, the Knights' offense woke up in the fourth en route to a 15-4 victory. The 15 runs were the most UCF scored in a league game since its first C-USA contest in program history, an 18-1 win at Marshall March 31, 2006. The 11-run victory also tied for the 12th largest winning margin by UCF in a conference game.
16 Innings Provides Lots of Random Notes
Here are just some of the highlights from UCF's 5-4 16-inning win over Monmouth March 9:
- The 16 innings were one shy of matching the longest game in UCF history, a 17-inning affair vs. Rollins in 1982.
- The game tied for fourth-longest in C-USA history.
- Eric Kallstrom tied a school record with eight at-bats.
- UCF had 56 combined at-bats, which matched a school record.
- Justin Weiss equaled a career-high with 4.0 innings pitched, and did not give up a run.
- 1B Shane Brown set a UCF single-game record with 19 putouts.
The Towering Drives of Brown and Lara
The wind may have been blowing out to center, but it set the stage for two memorable homers vs. Monmouth March 8. In the conclusion of game one of the series, Brown clobbered a three-run jack over the center-field fence in the fifth inning to give the Knights a 6-2 advantage. Robert Lara then became the hero in the originally scheduled game that afternoon, driving a grand slam over the giant wall in center to break a 4-4 tie in the eighth inning. Both homers were estimated to have traveled approximately 440 feet or more.
A Brotherly Affair
Although JU got the better of UCF March 5, one Knight will never forget the eighth inning. Freshman pitcher Brennan Dobbins came on in relief in the seventh, and a familiar face strode to the plate in the eighth with one out and runners at the corners: his brother Matt. JU's senior first baseman had a chance to ruin his younger brother's outing, but Brennan got Matt to line into an inning-ending double play as Matt could not help but smile as he walked off the field.
Strong Start Led to Promising Results
Senior Dwayne Bailey posted a .232 average with 44 hits as a junior. He busted out in the opening series vs. Florida A&M this year by going 10-for-15 with three extra-base hits to earn the C-USA Hitter of the Week honor. Bailey ended up batting .356 on the season with 77 hits, seven sac bunts, 21 stolen bases and a .987 fielding percentage.
A First for Everything
With 50 runs in the series vs. Florida A&M, UCF set a program record for runs in a three-game series. The previous mark was 47 vs. St. Joseph's March 3-5, 2001. The Knights did defeat Grace in three games by a combined score of 59-10 in 1985, however it was not an official series since UCF played Delaware after game one vs. Grace.