It was a glorified practice. Nothing counted. The regular season is still about four months away.
Yet, last Sunday had to feel pretty good for UCF baseball catcher Anthony George.
The Oviedo native collected a couple of hits, including a two-run homer, as the Knights began their fall-ball season with a 7-3 win over Seminole State.
After the Knights tie it up with an RBI single, Anthony George crushes a two-run homer two left. Yeah, welcome back.— Brian Murphy (@Spokes_Murphy) September 30, 2018
5-3, #UCF. Bottom 5.
It was George's first time facing another opponent since UCF's second game of the 2018 regular season, all the way back on Feb. 17. George suffered a sprained MCL on that Saturday night versus Rice. He was initially expected to miss a few weeks, but after aggravating that injured knee during a simulated game, George was ruled out for the year. However, he was able to see the bright side of not being able to play.
"Just getting to take a step back and watch I think really helped me," George said. "Just seeing things that go on in the game that I don't normally see is something that I really took to heart. It helped me out a little bit."
George's injury occurred while he was fielding his position against the Owls. Besides hitting that home run -- "fastball, up. Just got the barrel to it," he said -- the junior said it also felt nice to get back behind the plate.
"It's a lot of fun. Being in every play is something I enjoy, and that's the reason I play it," George said.
2 RBI and a— UCF Baseball (@UCF_Baseball) September 30, 2018
Great to have you back Georgie pic.twitter.com/2wKqIGmvDy
George had to handle a bunch of new arms Sunday as coach Greg Lovelady called upon six pitchers, including five first-year Knights, in the exhibition. Junior right-hander Trevor Holloway, a transfer from Chipola College, got the start and threw two perfect innings with two strikeouts. Lovelady remarked that freshman Nolan Lepkoske was particularly impressive as the bearded righty struck out a pair of batters in his inning of work.
But overall, Lovelady was just pleased to have his players face someone other than their teammates. Prior to this year, college baseball teams had their number of fall-ball contests subtracted from their 56-game regular season schedule. Thanks to an offseason rule change that Lovelady said many coaches, including himself, have been pushing for, teams can schedule these exhibitions versus other programs in the fall without sacrificing any regular season games.
"This is important in terms of the monotony and the boringness, and it's just different; the game is different when you're not playing yourself," Lovelady said. "It will allow us to play some games and break up the fall of intrasquads, and also really give ourselves a game-like experience, a game-like atmosphere. It teaches you a lot about the guys.
"Now we know what to work on between now and Sunday."
Sunday will mark UCF's second of three fall-ball games. The Knights will face the Canadian Junior National Team at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. However, do note that if you have plans to attend, you'll need to reschedule ...
Due to restrictions placed on the game, out contest against the Canadian Junior National Team will be closed to the public. https://t.co/9hNCjV3q4q— UCF Baseball (@UCF_Baseball) October 4, 2018
The next opportunity for fans to watch UCF baseball in person will come Friday, Oct. 12. That's when the Knights return to John Euliano Park and close out their fall schedule against other teams with a visit from Saint Leo University.
UCF will hold its annual Black and Gold World Series at home from Oct. 25-27. All game times are currently to be announced.