Baseball Season Comes Down To Jacksonville Series

ORLANDO - The 2003 regular season comes to an end this weekend for both UCF (30-23, 13-14) and Jacksonville (26-26, 15-15) as both schools fight for a spot in the Atlantic Sun Tournament. The critical three-game series begins Friday evening at 6 p.m. on Senior Night at Jay Bergman Field. The Golden Knights will honor their nine seniors prior to the start of the game. The series finishes with a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m.

Friday's game will be on the Internet only as WNSC calls all of the action from Jay Bergman Field. To listen to the game, log onto Saturday's doubleheader will be on the UCF ISP Sports Network (740 AM The Team), beginning with the pregame show at 12:45 p.m.

The Golden Knights must either sweep Jacksonville or win at least two games to have any chance to qualify for next week's A-Sun Tournament at Stetson. If UCF sweeps the Dolphins and Troy State loses just one game to Campbell, the Golden Knights will earn a spot in the conference tournament.

If the Golden Knights win two of three from Jacksonville, Troy State must lose two to Campbell, Belmont would have to sweep Gardner-Webb and the winner of the Jacksonville State-Georgia State series would have to win in a sweep.

Scouting Jacksonville
The Dolphins of Jacksonville University enter this weekend's series 26-26 overall including a record of 15-15 in the Atlantic Sun. JU, in need to win the series to qualify for the A-Sun Tournament, is coming off its first-ever series win over Miami at home last weekend. The Dolphins won two of three from the nationally-ranked Hurricanes, winning the series for the first time. The two schools have been playing baseball vs. each other since the 1958 season.

Despite batting just .280 as a team, the Dolphins have arguably the player of the year in the A-Sun in senior Chad Hauseman. The Pennsylvania native is batting .407 with 16 home runs and 35 RBI. Hauseman, who has missed his last five games after getting hit by a pitch in the FAU series by Danny Core, is scheduled to be a game-time decision all weekend.

On the mound, the JU pitching staff has a team ERA of 4.62 this season. In 418.2 innings of work, JU has totaled 276 strikeouts and 145 walks.

JU will start the series by sending sophomore right-hander Dennis Robinson to the mound. In 14 appearances this season including 11 starts, Robinson is 4-6 with a 4.54 ERA.

In game two, JU will turn to freshman southpaw Donald Brickle on the mound. Brickle is 2-3 with a 4.21 ERA in 12 appearances. Opponents are batting just .251 vs. the lefty. In the series finale, senior right-hander Darren Truty gets the starting nod. Truty is 4-5 overall with a 4.14 ERA in 78.1 innings of work.

Inside The Jacksonville Series
Jacksonville is the only Atlantic Sun conference opponent to own a winning record vs. UCF. The Dolphins lead the all-time series 27-26 after winning two of three from UCF in Jacksonville last season.

UCF is 6-5 vs. JU in its last 11 meetings vs. the Dolphins including a 2-1 mark at Jay Bergman Field.

On The Hill For UCF
Taylor Cobb, a native of Jacksonville, will get the start on the mound Friday in the series opener for the Golden Knights. Cobb, who played on the prep level at The Bolles School, is 4-3 this season with a 4.22 ERA. In 53.1 innings of work, Cobb has totaled 41 strikeouts and opponents are batting .254 vs. the right-hander.

Michael (7-5, 3.03 ERA) will get the start in game two. The senior right-handed pitcher has been fantastic all season long as he leads the team in complete games (5), ERA (3.03), wins (7) and innings pitched (77.1). Michael has lost four games in the A-Sun this season in which he has allowed just one earned run.

The series finale will feature sophomore Matt Fox (3-3, 5.91 ERA) on the mound for the Golden Knights. Fox has stepped into the No. 3 spot in the rotation and has been impressive. Last weekend at Stetson, Fox won his third game of the season by pitching 5.2 innings, holding the Hatters to three runs. In 42.2 innings of work, Fox has racked up 47 strikeouts.

Lambert Continues To Sizzle
Freshman first baseman Dave Lambert has been on fire at the plate for UCF. Lambert is batting .444 in 30 games this season including 18 starts.

Lambert was named the Atlantic Sun Player of the Week two weeks ago for his performance at Troy State.

Lambert 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. He 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 .607 (17-28) in 13 games including nine starts.

Fox Rocks
Matt Fox is clearly showing why the Arizona Diamondbacks drafted him in the sixth round of out high school in the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft. Since joining the weekend rotation at Gardner-Webb, Fox is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in 19.0 innings of work. The flame thrower has 18 strikeouts vs. A-Sun competition this season.

Baseball America labeled Fox the 44th best sophomore in the nation in its 2003 college baseball preview edition. In addition, Baseball America wrote that Fox has the best fastball in the A-Sun while also possessing the best infield arm in the conference.

Another 30-Win Season
For the ninth straight season, UCF has won at least 30 games under head coach Jay Bergman. In Bergman's 21 seasons at the helm, only two of his teams have failed to reach the 30-win plateau.

Over the nine-year stretch of nine straight 30-win campaigns, UCF has averaged 41.7 wins per season including seven 40-win seasons and one 50-win campaign (51 wins in 2001).

Clay Timpner has hit safely in 10 straight games while Ryan Bear has an eight-game hitting streak entering this weekend.

Honoring The Seniors
UCF will honor nine seniors Friday prior to the game vs. Jacksonville for all their hard work over the years in the program.

Ryan Bear, Nathan Kragt, Mark Michael, Lincoln Mincks, Brian Steenson, Von David Stertzbach, David Torres, Rich Wallace and Nick Whidden will hit the field for their final home series.

Stertzbach and Wallace, the only two four-year seniors on the roster, have been part of three teams that have qualified for the NCAA Tournament. The duo has also been part of two A-Sun title teams. In four seasons, UCF has an impressive record of 160-78 (.672) with the two on the roster.

Down The Stretch They Come
Six teams are separated by just two games in the standings as the final weekend of play is set to begin in the A-Sun.

The final weekend has an outstanding slate of games in the conference, beginning with Stetson visiting Florida Atlantic. Other key series of note include Belmont at Gardner-Webb, Georgia State at Jacksonville State and Campbell at Troy State.

Flashing The Leather
UCF leads the A-Sun with a .969 fielding percentage this season. The mark puts the 2003 team second all-time in the single-season rankings in school history, only behind the 2001 team (.973).

So Close
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 .391.
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 (72), runs (43), doubles (19), triples (5), home runs (5), RBI (35), total bases (116), slugging percentage (.630) while ranking third on the team in stolen bases (7-for-10).

In A-Sun games, Bear has been on fire, batting .406 with three home runs, 11 doubles, two triples and 16 RBI.

Bear is tied for ninth in career slugging percentage with a .565 mark.

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 0.84 ERA in 22 appearances including two saves. Bono has yielded just 19 hits in 32.1 innings of work while totaling 42 strikeouts and just 10 walks. Opponents are batting .173 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.

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% of the runners attempting to steal against him (17-for-37).

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 .306, fifth 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 (.413, 19-for-46).

Updating The Record Books

Von David Stertzbach
Career K's	 223	6th
Career App.	  79	2nd
Career K/9 inn.	9.71	T-5th
Ryan Bear
Career Slug. %	.565	9th
Rich Wallace
Career HBP	44	1st
Nathan Kragt
Season HBP	15	2nd
Career HBP	20	5th

UCF In The A-Sun Rankings

As of May 14
Team Rankings
Batting	        .302	3rd
Pitching	4.36	4th
Fielding	.969	1st
Ryan Bear	.391	3rd
Clay Timpner	.351	9th
Mark Michael	3.03	5th
Ryan Bear	.72	T-2nd
Ryan Bear	15	3rd
Ryan Bear	5	T-1st
Total Bases
Ryan Bear	116	T-4th
Stolen Bases
Clay Timpner	21-23	2nd

A-Sun Conference Only Games
As of May 14
Team Rankings
Batting	        .313	3rd
Pitching	4.46	5th
Fielding	.969	1st
Stolen Bases	.963	T-5th
Ryan Bear	.406	3rd
Mark Michael	2.62	4th

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