Saturday's contest is going to be aired live on Sunshine Network with Tom Block and Nick Belmonte calling all of the action from DeLand. Belmonte played for two seasons under Jay Bergman when he was the head coach at Florida from 1976-77. Over his two years with Bergman at Florida, Belmonte led the SEC his junior year in stolen bases with a then-SEC record 42 steals.
The Golden Knights look to continue a remarkable streak of 10 straight wins in Melching Field at Conrad Park. UCF is 10-0 all-time in the ballpark that opened in 1999.
The key three-game series features the second-place Hatters vs. the seventh-place Golden Knights. UCF is just a half game out of the top six and just one full game behind fourth-place in the conference. Six teams are separated by just one game as the A-Sun winds down over the next two weekends.
The Streak In Melching Field At Conrad Park
UCF looks to continue one of the most amazing streaks in the Atlantic Sun this weekend as the Golden Knights are a perfect 10-0 all-time in Melching Field at Conrad Park.
UCF is 7-0 vs. the Hatters including two, three-game series sweeps and 3-0 vs. the rest of the conference. In last season's A-Sun Tournament, UCF defeated Stetson along with Samford, Troy State and Florida Atlantic to clinch the title.
Stetson has only been swept in a three-game series twice all-time at home, both of which came vs. UCF.
In addition, of the 47 teams that have played at Melching Field, only two, UCF (10-0) and Northern Illinois (1-0) are undefeated.
The Hatters of Stetson University enter this weekend's series with an overall record of 32-17 including an 18-9 mark in the conference. Stetson is second in the A-Sun, trailing only Florida Atlantic. The Hatters and Owls meet in the final regular season series for the two schools in Boca Raton to end the year.
The Hatters are on a roll of late, winning six straight games and 28 of their last 38 contests.
As a team, Stetson is hitting .309 while the team ERA stands at 4.11.
Brian Snyder leads the team with a .399 batting average in 49 games this season. Snyder also ranks first on the squad with eight home runs and 41 RBI.
On the mound, Stetson has announced its first two starters in the series. Game one will feature junior left-hander Adam Townsend on the hill. Townsend is 3-2 in 2003 with a 3.74 ERA in 17 appearances. In 53 innings, Townsend has totaled 53 strikeouts and just 19 walks.
In the second game of the series, junior right-hander Cy McCuen will get the nod. In 16 appearances including 11 starts, McCuen is 7-2 with a 4.03 ERA. The junior college transfer has 45 strikeouts and only 18 walks in 67 innings of work.
Inside The Stetson Series
UCF has played Stetson more than any other school in its history on the baseball diamond. The Golden Knights lead the all-time series, 54-38.
Last season, the two schools split four games. The Hatters won two of three in the regular season at Jay Bergman Field while the Golden Knights routed the Hatters 13-6 in the A-Sun Tournament in DeLand.
On The Hill For UCF
Jay Bergman will hand the baseball to two seniors and a sophomore this weekend at Stetson. In the series opener Saturday, Von David Stertzbach will take to the mound.
Stertzbach (3-5, 4.32 ERA) leads UCF in innings pitched (73.0) and strikeouts (64) this season. In four career appearances vs. Stetson, Stertzbach is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 7.0 innings. The right-hander has walked just four batters while totaling 11 strikeouts.
Michael (7-4, 3.15 ERA) continued a stellar senior campaign with a strong outing to earn the win at Troy State last Saturday. The Kentucky native pitched 6.0 innings, allowing two earned runs, on eight hits with eight strikeouts. In 71.1 innings this season, Michael has 60 strikeouts and just 22 walks.
The series finale will feature sophomore Matt Fox (2-3, 6.08 ERA) on the mound for the Golden Knights. Fox, who garnered his first career A-Sun win last weekend at Troy State, pitched 6.1 innings for the victory. The talented sophomore tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts and yielded just three runs on five hits in the win. In 37.0 innings of work, the hard-throwing right-hander has 44 strikeouts.
Lambert Cited By A-Sun
UCF first baseman Dave Lambert was named the Atlantic Sun Baseball Player-of-the-Week on Monday afternoon after leading the UCF offense to a key A-Sun Series win. Lambert was a near perfect 5-for-6 at the plate with a team high five RBI as the Golden Knights stayed in the hunt for an Atlantic Sun Tournament berth by taking two of three games at Troy State.
Lambert is the first freshman in the conference this season to be named player of the week.
Lambert, a freshman from Chesterton, Ind., earned his first A-Sun Player-of-the-Week honor by batting .833 (5-6) over three games with one home run, three runs scored and five RBI. Lambert also drew three walks, including one intentional pass, and was hit by a pitch.
In game one of the series, Lambert tied a career-best with three hits, one of which was his second home run of the season, and three RBI to lead UCF. Lambert recorded a hit in each of the three games and recorded a slugging percentage of 1.500 over the series.
Lambert has been at his best in the A-Sun this season, hitting .636 (14-22) in 11 games including seven starts. He is batting .438 on the season in 28 games, including 16 starts.
A Comeback For The Ages
UCF pulled off the biggest comeback victory in Jay Bergman's 21 years as head coach vs. Campbell on April 4. The Golden Knights trailed 9-0 in the eighth inning before a late rally to win the contest 10-9 in 12 innings.
The nine-run comeback win is also the largest comeback victory in the Atlantic Sun conference this season.
UCF managed to score four times in the eighth vs. the Fighting Camels before putting up a five-spot in the ninth to tie the contest.
The Golden Knights eventually won the game in the 12th to improve their record to 4-1 in extra innings this season.
Speaking Of Comebacks ...
UCF's 7-5 win over Charleston Southern was a game for the record books for UCF. The Golden Knights trailed 5-1 entering the ninth inning before scoring six runs on five hits to clinch the win.
The six runs and five hits tied the school records for most runs and hits in a ninth inning.
UCF is 7-11 in one-run games this season including just a 1-7 record in conference games.
What A Run In The A-Sun
Over the last three seasons, UCF has been almost untouchable in the A-Sun. The Golden Knights have won three regular season conference crowns and two tournament titles since 2000. UCF is 68-19 (.782) in the conference over the three-year span.
In all, UCF has won the A-Sun six times, the most of any conference school.
One Of The Nation's Elite Programs
UCF is one of just five schools in the nation over the last two seasons to win a conference title, reach the 40-win plateau, and earn a spot in the NCAA Championships. The Golden Knights are joined in the exclusive club by Coastal Carolina (Big South), Oral Roberts (Mid-Continent), Southern (Southwestern) and Rice (Western Athletic).
UCF finished the 2001 season 51-14 and 41-22 last year.
In addition, UCF has won at least 40 games in three straight seasons and seven out of the last eight years. In 1999, UCF finished with 38 wins and missed the NCAA Tournament. The 1999 campaign was the last time UCF failed to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Overall, UCF has made eight appearances in the NCAA Tournament to go along with six A-Sun Conference titles.
Bear Continues To Impress
Senior Ryan Bear has been one of UCF's most improved players in 2003. After batting .283 in 39 games in his first season at UCF last year, Bear leads the Golden Knights in batting this season at .384.
The Panama City native was just seven games away from tying the school record earlier in the year with a 19-game hitting streak. Mike Myers owns the UCF record with a 26-game hitting streak he tallied from April 3 to May 19, 2001.
Bear also leads the club in hits (66), , runs (40), doubles (18), triples (5), home runs (5), RBI (34), total bases (109), slugging percentage (.634) while ranking third on the team in stolen bases (7-for-10).
Bear Receives Two Honors
Ryan Bear has been successful on and off the baseball diamond this season. This week, Bear was named to the Verizon Academic All-District First Team. A management major with an impressive 3.72 GPA, Bear will now be on the ballot for the Verizon Academic All-America Team.
Bear was also named an All-American by the National Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association earlier this season for his hard work and dedication in the weight room.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Kyle Bono has performed as well as any freshmen pitcher in the nation in 2003. The Lake Mary native is 4-2 with a 0.56 ERA in 21 appearances including two saves. Bono has yielded just 18 hits in 32.0 innings of work while totaling 42 strikeouts and just 10 walks. Opponents are batting .167 vs. the rookie.
Bono has felt right at home on the mound, especially pitching to his twin brother Ryan. Ryan is a catcher on the team and has formed the first brother-brother battery in UCF history several times this season.
Ryan is hitting .279 in 23 starts behind the dish for the Golden Knights. He hit his first collegiate home run at Troy State last weekend and is the midst of a career-best eight-game hitting streak.
Clay Coming Up Big
Sophomore outfielder Clay Timpner has turned it on over the last three A-Sun games. At Gardner-Webb two weeks ago, Timpner hit .700 (7-for-10) with three doubles, a home run and one stolen base. The homer was the first of the season for Timpner after he slugged five as a freshman.
Last weekend at Troy State, Timpner was at it again, hitting .462 over the three-game set.
The sophomore ranks second on the team in batting (.360) while leading the team and conference with 21 stolen bases in 23 attempts.
Not So Fast My Friend
Freshman catcher Drew Butera has quickly established himself as the top throwing catcher in the Atlantic Sun. Opposing base runners have had their hands full attempting to steal on the rookie. Butera has thrown out 54.2% of the runners attempting to steal against him (16-for-35).
Butera had a great person to learn the catching position from as a youngster. Drew's father Sal Butera was a catcher in Major League Baseball for the Twins, Reds, Expos and Blue Jays.
Butera has also started to find his swing at the plate. The freshman is batting .315, fourth best on the team. The 2003 Baseball America Preseason Freshman of the Year in the Atlantic Sun, Butera is UCF's leading hitter with runners in scoring position (.415, 17-for-41).
Updating The Record Books
Several UCF players have moved up in the career and single-season record books in 2003.
Senior RHP Von David Stertzbach has moved into sixth place on the career strikeout list at UCF with 221. He moved past current UCF pitching coach Craig Cozart into sixth place after recording two strikeouts at Belmont . Stertzbach is also among the school's all-time greats in relief appearances (67/4th) and appearances (78/T-2nd). Stertzbach also joined an elite list of just seven UCF pitchers that have accumulated at least 200 career strikeouts.
Stertzbach will move into second place by himself in career appearances with his 79th appearance Saturday vs. Stetson. Jason Arnold (1998-01) holds the school record with 98 career appearances.
Seniors Rich Wallace and Nathan Kragt continue to add to their totals of being hit by a pitch. Wallace is UCF's all-time leader in the category with 47 HBP, while Kragt is fifth with 19 HBP. Kragt's 13 HBP in 2003 put the senior infielder third in single-season history.
UCF In The A-Sun Rankings
As of May 9 Team Rankings Batting .299 3rd Pitching 4.35 5th Fielding .969 1st Batting Ryan Bear .384 5th Clay Timpner .360 8th Pitching Mark Michael 3.15 6th Doubles Ryan Bear 18 3rd Triples Ryan Bear 5 T-1st Stolen Bases Clay Timpner 21-23 T-1st
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