A busy weekend of UCF Knights sports brought home some big wins, plus we name a Knight of the Week in your latest Knight Cap for Monday, March 22:
Offense Powers Baseball to Series Win vs. Jacksonville
After falling in a pitcher’s duel on Friday night, UCF Baseball (9-10) scored 22 runs over the final two games of the weekend to win two of three versus the Jacksonville Dolphins.
UCF capped the weekend with one of its best performances of the season in a 10-0 triumph. It was the Knights’ second shutout of the season; the first was also a 10-0 victory back on March 10 over North Florida.
Ben McCabe homered twice on Sunday, giving him eight for the season. McCabe has 18 hits this year and 13 have gone for extra bases. Granted, he got a lucky break on his second HR:
Pablo Ruiz was probably the offensive star of the weekend. He recorded four hits on Sunday and seven in his final 10 at-bats of the series. He tripled twice during the finale, becoming the first Knight to do so in a game since Drake Wade in 2004. Ruiz had been in a season-long funk at the plate. After missing some time early in the season due to COVID-19 contact tracing protocols and a rib injury, Ruiz was just 6-for-46 at the dish entering Saturday. Then he knocked out more hits in the last two games than he did in his first 13.
Ruiz, Jordan Rathbone and Connor Allen were the catalysts in UCF’s 12-9 victory on Saturday. That trio picked up seven of the team’s 14 hits and drove in eight runs. And all of those RBIs came in a three-inning span. Rathbone crushed a two-run shot in the third before coming through with a bases-loaded triple in the fourth. Allen came up in the fifth and drilled a three-run homer. Allen, who has received more playing time of late, has gone deep twice in the past four games.
Starting pitcher Colton Gordon provided yet another quality start on Friday night, allowing two runs and striking out nine over six innings. But UCF could muster only one unearned run in the 2-1 defeat. Jacksonville starter Tyler Santana went the distance and struck out 10. The Knights are 2-5 in one-run games this season.
UCF will be on the road for the next week. The trip begins Wednesday with a visit to Florida State. The Seminoles were up and down at the season’s outset, but they have won five games in a row, including a victory over the No. 5 Florida Gators and an eye-opening road sweep of the No. 6 Miami Hurricanes. FSU outscored Miami 34-2 in those three games.
First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6 p.m. UCF then will travel to Troy, Ala for three weekend games against the Trojans. The Knights won’t play at home until seeing Jacksonville again on March 30. - Brian Murphy
No. 20 UCF Softball Responds at No. 24 South Carolina
It was a rough Saturday for UCF Softball as they dropped their first series of the season, losing a doubleheader to South Carolina on Saturday, 9-1 and 4-2. The question on Sunday was how would the team respond after getting hit with a 1-2 punch and seeing their own blood?
The answer was: They punched back:
Georgia Blair jump-started the offense with her 9th homer of season in the top of the 1st to give the Knights the early lead. The offense then exploded with a 6-run 5th inning to go ahead 9-2.
UCF’s pitching staff, which faced a tight strike zone all weekend, bounced back on Sunday as Alea White and Gianna Mancha combined to hold the Gamecocks’ explosive offense to 4 runs. White picked up her 10th win of the season as UCF salvaged the third game of the series, 10-4, for their 2nd win over a Top 25 team this season.
In the long run, this could prove to be a good thing for Knights, who faced questionable umpiring and adversity on the road at an SEC park and responded on Sunday after a tough Saturday. It will not be the last time UCF faces an SEC team this week, as they will host No. 5 Florida at the Complex in the first of two meetings this season, with the other one scheduled for April 14th in Gainesville.
Up Next: No. 20 UCF hosts No. 5 Florida Wednesday 6pm on ESPN+. - Eric Lopez
UCF Men’s Soccer Dominates Temple 4-0 To Win 3rd Straight
UCF Men’s Soccer continued its upward trend with a complete performance as the Knights offense exploded with four goals, including two from Hattabiou Barry, and destroyed Temple, 4-0.
Barry got the Knights on the board in 17th minute on great pass from Gino Vivi to give UCF the 1-0 lead:
Went for power AND accuracy! What a shot pic.twitter.com/r3mUUZ2AUf— UCF Men's Soccer (@UCF_MSoccer) March 20, 2021
UCF put the game away in 2nd half with two goals in a three-minute stretch, starting with a penalty kick goal from Yoni Sorokin in the 48th minute:
Unstoppable from the spot pic.twitter.com/ES4FjaObmw— UCF Men's Soccer (@UCF_MSoccer) March 20, 2021
The goal of the night came two minutes later from Anderson Rosa on a free kick:
Barry would score his 2nd goal near the end of match to close out the 4-0 win and improve the Knights to 4-3 on the season.
UCF out-shot Temple 14-8 in the match. UCF Goalkeeper Yannik Oettl got his 2nd consecutive clean sheet with five saves.
Up Next: UCF at South Florida in a auge War I-4 Showdown, Saturday 7 p.m. - Eric Lopez
Late Goal Costs UCF Women Soccer at USF
The Knights and Bulls battled in another tense War on I-4 match, but the Knights droped a heart-breaker 2-1 to fall to 2-3-1 on the season.
USF took the lead in the first half on a goal by Sabrina Wagner in 36th minute.
In the second half, Mathilde Kack tied the game in the 71st minute, scoring her first of the season on a header off of a set piece:
However, less than ten minutes later, South Florida capitalized on a controversial penalty kick opportunity to retake the lead with less than 15 minutes left, as they got a foul call in box even though replay showed that UCF defender did not tackle the Bulls player. The Knights made a late push but could not find the equalizer.
Up Next: Sunday vs SMU at 1 p.m. on ESPN+ - Eric Lopez
No. 21 UCF Men’s Tennis Splits vs. Florida State, No. 17 Georgia
The UCF Men’s Tennis team knocked off Florida State in Tallahassee on Friday in a match that came down to the last court between UCF’s Gabe Decamps, who ranked 16th, against FSU’s Alex Knaff, who ranks 77th. Decamps was victorious in the first set but saw Knaff win the second set 6-1 to force a third and final set. Decamps took over in the third as he won the match 7-6, 1-6, 6-1.
Decamps has won eight consecutive singles matches to improve to 10-1 on the season as well as 4-1 against ranked opponents, including his win on Sunday versus Georgia’s Trent Bryde, who is ranked 9th in country. Unfortunently, Decamps’ efforts were not enough on Sunday in Athens as Georgia defeated UCF 4-2, dropping the Knights to 8-3 on the season and snapping a six-match win streak.
Up Next: Wednesday 5 p.m. vs No. 37 Arkansas - Eric Lopez
UCF Rowing Opens Season With Sweeps of Jacksonville & Stetson
The UCF Rowing team opened its 2021 season with a clean sweep of Jacksonville and Stetson on Lake Pickett Saturday morning:
Up Next: UCF heads to Virginia for the UVA Invite March 26-27 - Eric Lopez
UCF Track and Field Opens Outdoor Season with Three Records
UCF Track and Field’s season started with a bang, breaking three records:
- Valerie Lastra set the UCF record in the 3000-meter run
- Asherah Collins set a new freshman record in the Triple Jump
- Rayniah Jones set the 100-meter hurdle freshmen record.
Up Next: April 3 at USF Invitational - Eric Lopez
Knights of The Week
Hattabiou Barry, Men’s Soccer
Barry followed up his performance last week at SMU, where he scored a goal and was named American Athletic Conference Player of the Week, with two goals on Saturday night in leading UCF to a 4-0 win over Temple. Barry scored the first goal of the match in the first half and added the last goal of the night.
Valerie Lastra, Track and Field
Lastra is the first Knight to make Knight of the Week twice. She last won the Knight of the Week back on Feb 8 for winning Freshman of the Year in The American at the Cross Country Championships. This time she makes it for breaking a school record in the first event of the outdoor season in the 3K.
Gabriel Decamps, Men’s Tennis
Decamps is on track to becoming one of the greatest UCF singles tennis players in program history. He has won eight consecutive singles matches to improve to 10-1 on the season, and is 4-1 against ranked opponents, including his win on Sunday versus Georgia’s Trent Bryde, who is ranked 9th in country, 6-1, 6-3.
Pablo Ruiz, Baseball
Ruiz raised his season batting average by more than 100 points — from .130 to .232 — after collecting seven hits in UCF’s two victories this past weekend against Jacksonville. Four of those hits came Sunday, two of which were triples. It had been 17 years since a UCF player recorded two triples in a game. Ruiz also collected three RBI Sunday and stole home to boot.