Brewin Report: Perspective on the UCF Series & Previewing UNF

Written by:
Mark Giardino (@usfbaseballfans)

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Bulls Swept by UCF

This past weekend, the Bulls traveled out east to play the UCF Knights and lost all 3 games.

Emotions Ran High in Oviedo (By Mark)

I think there were a lot of emotions attached to this series for both teams. 

Last season, back in 2021, the two teams met 8 times in the regular season and once in the postseason. The regular season series went to the Knights who won 5 out of the 8 games.

However, when it really counted, the Bulls prevailed. In the AAC Championship game, the Bulls pulled off an 8 to 7 victory to clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament. 

You have to think that really stung for UCF. They probably were expecting to win that final game, considering they had won the regular season series. Instead, the Knights lost and failed to break their NCAA Tournament drought which dates back to 2017.

The Bulls would go on to not only play in the NCAA Tournament (for the 2nd time post 2017), they would win their Regional in Gainesville and advance to their first ever Super-Regional. In their 49 year history, the Knights have never won a Regional or been to a Super-Regional. 

Can you see why the Knights may have been extremely fired up to play the Bulls? And this is all besides the fact that we’re neighboring schools and rivals.

The Knights were at home and they came to play. The Bulls were on the road and just had an off weekend. It happens sometimes. Shake it off, learn, and move on. Our record for the season is still 18-10. At this point last year, our record was 12-16 and we still won the conference tournament, won a Regional, and went to a Super-Regional.

Happens to the Best of em (By Mark)

Getting swept is never fun, but sometimes it happens. Last season, 4 out of the 8 teams that made it to Omaha were each swept one time during a weekend series.

Those teams were as follows:

  • NC State – swept in their 1st conference (ACC) series of the season
  • Virginia – swept in their 1st conference (ACC) home series of the season
  • Mississippi State – swept in their 1st conference (SEC) home series of the season
  • Texas – swept in an opening weekend showcase (3 games, 3 different teams)
(NC State made it to Omaha in 2021 despite getting swept in their 1st series of conference play – Source)

Did any of these teams feel sorry for themselves and fold? Obviously not. And knowing the character and track record of our USF Bulls, I’m confident we’ll bounce back quickly.

As you can see from these four examples above, getting swept is not a big deal. What is, however, a big deal is how you respond. All four of those teams endured these sweeps early in the season (like we did) but then went on to learn from it and play great baseball the rest of the way home.

They all went to Omaha and Mississippi State went on to win the National Championship.

What happened out there? (By Mark)

(Orion Kerkering – Source)

Friday night – I watched this one on TV before going to see the last two games in person. The pitching matchup featured two of the best starting pitchers in the country, our Orion Kerkering and the Knights’ Connor Staine. Kerkering delivered his 3rd consecutive Quality Start (6 IP, 2 ER) but was not able to get any run support. The Bulls lost 5-0.

Saturday – The Bulls were originally supposed to play on Saturday at 6pm, but the start time got moved to noon due to inclement weather. Then, about 30 minutes before first pitch, the game got postponed due to weather anyways. It was decided that the two teams would play a doubleheader on Sunday.

Sunday – The flow of the first game was pretty similar to Friday night in the sense that we got a pretty good start from our starter (Brad Lord, 6 IP, 4 R) but didn’t get any runs of our own. We lost that one 4-0. Then in the second game, the bats finally woke up and the Bulls held a 4-0 lead through 4 innings. Starting pitching was solid again (Ethan Brown, 3 IP, 0 R) but the bullpen was unable to hold the lead and the bats did not re-awaken at any point in the day. The Bulls lost 8-4.

What can the Bulls take away from this experience? (By Mark)

Although it was mostly a weekend to forget, there were a few things I learned about the team that I think can help them going forward.

A New Option at Starting Pitcher – Ethan Brown, the sophomore left handed pitcher from Winter Garden, FL, made his first start on the mound as a USF Bull in Sunday’s final game. Brown did about as well as he could and efficiently worked through 3 innings on just 38 pitches while holding the Knights scoreless. He got the opportunity to make the weekend start because Jack Jasiak was held out of action due to an injury.

Claiming the Setup Man Role – Nolan Hudi, the freshman left handed pitcher from Safety Harbor, FL, continued to be very effective out of the bullpen. In Sunday’s final game, Hudi delivered 2.1 innings of scoreless baseball without allowing any baserunners. Hudi has recently been used in some high leverage situations and I would expect that trend to continue.

(Nolan Hudi – Source)

What’s Next on the Schedule? (By Mark)

Tonight the Bulls face off against the UNF Ospreys at home #PackTheRed.

According to UNF’s official website, tonight’s starting pitchers will be UNF’s LHP Zach Chappell and USF’s RHP Tyler Dietz.

This will be the first collegiate start for USF freshman Tyler Dietz. Dietz is coming off of a good outing against Bethune Cookman in which he threw a scoreless inning and only allowed 1 baserunner. Dietz is also the hardest throwing freshman the Bulls have on the pitching staff, regularly sitting in the mid 90s and topping out at 96mph. This is definitely a big opportunity for Tyler and we wish him the best of luck.

(Tyler Dietz – Source)

As for UNF, Zach Chappell is a 4th year senior who has had a mixed bag of results throughout his collegiate career. In Chappell’s last outing, he came in out of the bullpen and threw a scoreless inning. However, his two appearances prior to that were both starts and this is how those went:

3/19/22 – home vs Liberty – 2.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 R, 4 H, 5 BB
3/26/22 – away vs Kennesaw State – 4.2 IP, 9 ER, 10 H, 3 BB, 1 HBP

(Zach Chappell – Source)

As you can see, this guy struggled a lot in his last two starts. The Bulls, being at home, and coming off of a rough weekend should look to pounce on Chappell early and give Dietz a lead to work with.

First pitch is tonight at 6pm. If you’re in Tampa Bay, come on out and support the Bulls as they look to get back on track. If you can’t make it out, the game will be streamed live on ESPN+.

Go Bulls! #HornsUp #CarryTheBoat #Bullmaha

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