May 30, 2012
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Marc Daniels
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The fact that the UCF baseball team knew it was going to be in the NCAA Tournament during Monday's selection show was a sign of where the program has come from. The Knights were a solid number two seed and sent to the regional in Coral Gables where they will face a very good Missouri State team on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m.
The Road to Omaha has been the motto for Terry Rooney's team all season and making the NCAA Tournament is great, but this team hungers for more.
Having been to numerous regionals with UCF baseball over the years, count me among the many happy to see the Knights in south Florida. Not because the Canes and everyone else in the regional are pushovers. But because there are some other places in the state that have been tough to get out of for UCF teams of the past.
This UCF team already has a win at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. The Knights won a 4-1 game back on April 4 in a game where Ronnie Richardson homered and D.J. Hicks added a big RBI double in a key two-run eighth inning. UCF relievers Roman Madrid and Joe Rogers shut the door on Miami to close out the big road win.
Miami claimed a 3-2 win in Orlando back on March 14 in a heated game. The two close games add some juice to the regional but don't look past the other two regional participants. Missouri State finished a half game behind Indiana State for the Missouri Valley title. The Missouri Valley ended up one spot above Conference USA in RPI as the fifth best league in the country.
Missouri State posted six wins over top-50 RPI teams. The Bears have the best team ERA in the country at 2.52 and their likely Friday starter, Nick Petree, is 10-3 with a 0.92 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 107.1 innings. The Bears are deep in pitching and might be one of the best three seeds in the tournament.
Formerly known as Southwest Missouri State, the Bears went to the College World Series in 2003, their last NCAA Tournament appearance. Ironically, their last game in Omaha that year was a 7-5 loss to Miami.
Stony Brook is 46-11 and has won the second-most games in the country. The Seawolves have won 11 straight and 22 of 23 coming into the regional. Stony Brook features, not one, but two players hitting over .400.
So what does it all mean? It means the Coral Gables Regional is one of the most competitive in the country. The key to winning a regional is to win the first game. Your path to a Super Regional is much easier if you win your opening contest. If you do not, you can win, but it takes a lot of arms to get the job done.
If you've never been to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field, you will enjoy the experience. The stadium has changed from its original look, but the atmosphere is great and the crowds should be good.
The Road to Omaha for UCF begins in Miami and the Knights head into the regional with confidence and are not just happy to be there. You need great pitching, timely hitting, solid defense and a little luck to get to Omaha. Let the journey begin.
Knights notes and more: How good is UCF's track & field team? They are ranked 13th in the country and prepare for the upcoming NCAA Championships next week at Iowa. With six student athletes set to compete for NCAA titles, it also includes several who may not only compete in the upcoming Olympic Trials, but represent the United States in the Olympics. That is big my friends...At the recent BIG EAST meetings there was discussion about how to play an 18-team men's basketball tournament. That discussion will continue by the league and coaches. No one asked me, but here's my suggestion. Top four teams get double byes into the quarterfinals and the fifth and sixth place teams get a bye. Seeds 7-18 play a six game opening day of the event that begins at 9 a.m. Sure, critics will scoff, but it would make for a heck of a day at Madison Square Garden. After Tuesday's six game hoop fest, four games on Wednesday will leave you with eight teams for quarterfinal play on Thursday and then the semifinals on Friday and the title game as normally played on Saturday.