Clemson Baseball: Oppo Research – UCF Knights

Clemson junior Ryan Ammons (21) pitches to Binghampton during the top of the first inning at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson Friday, February 17, 2023.Clemson Vs Binghampton Baseball Home Opener
Clemson junior Ryan Ammons (21) pitches to Binghampton during the top of the first inning at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson Friday, February 17, 2023.Clemson Vs Binghampton Baseball Home Opener /

The Clemson Baseball Tigers have started the year the best way possible.  The Tigers are 4-0 after a series sweep versus an overmatched Binghamton squad and a very serviceable Charlotte 49ers team who threw weekend starters at the Tigers for a mid-week game.

There is a step up in opponent this week as Clemson welcomes in the UCF Knights.

Opponent: University of Central Florida

Location: Orlando, Florida

Enrollment: 66,183

Conference: American Athletic Conference

The University of Central Florida, commonly known as UCF is one of the largest public universities in terms of enrollment in the country.

Last season, the Knights finished 32-25, good enough for 2nd place in the American Athletic Conference, but missing the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year.

UCF is led by Head Coach Greg Lovelady, who enters his 7th season in Orlando.  Lovelady, a stalwart on those late 90s-early 2000s University of Miami National Championship winning teams as the team’s catcher.  He has amassed a 317-179 record at UCF after coming over from Wright State.

UCF swept Siena last weekend, taking all three games and out-scoring the Cardinals 35-7.  They followed up that impressive season-opening series by dropping a mid-week game to in-state rival Florida Atlantic University 13-3.

Projected Starting Lineup* – (2023 statistics referenced below: Batting Average/HR/RBI)

Corey Robinson – Soph – RF – .273/0/2; 2-2 SB

Nick Romano – R. Senior – 1B – .250/2/5

Tom Josten – R. Senior – 2B – .333/0/2

Ben McCabe – R. Senior – C – .438/4/8

Andrew Brait – R. Junior – 3B – .333/0/2

Lex Boedicker – Soph – LF – .231/1/2

Drew Faurot – Frosh – SS – .333/1/4

Cole Russo – Soph – DH – .231/0/1

John Rhys Plumlee – R. Senior – CF – .333/0/3

Key Reserve/Possible Starter:

Brady Shannon – Frosh – OF – .417/2/5

(*lineup based on all 4 games played by UCF so far in 2023)

On the mound, the Knights have thrown 13 pitchers throughout their first four games.  Their team ERA is 4.76 across 34 innings having given up 20 runs, 40 strikeouts and 18 walks.  Opponents are hitting .198 overall against the staff.

Projected Starters*: (2023 Statistics referenced below)

*Based on UCF/Clemson Press Release


Ruddy Gomez – R. Senior – RHP – 6.35 ERA, 5.2 IP, 7 Ks, 1 BB; .261 OppBA


Cameron Leiter – Frosh – RHP – 2.08 ERA, 4.1 IP, 7 Ks, 4 BBs; .077 OppBA


Dom Stagliano – Soph – RHP – 0.00 ERA, 5.0 IP, 7 Ks, 1 BB; .176 OppBA

UCF’s starting staff are a bunch of strike-throwers.  The Friday night starter Ruddy Gomez (who will face Clemson’s Ryan Ammons), had the longest outing of the year so far for the Knights.  He did allow 4 earned runs across those 5 and ⅔ innings, however he commanded the strike zone and struck out 7 to only 1 free pass.

Freshman Cameron Leiter (cousin of Jack and nephew of Al of the same last name) held Siena to not much over 4 and a third, as they just managed 1 hit.  He will face Austin Gordon for Clemson.

Finally, Dom Stagliano will get the start on Sunday (versus Jay Dill for the Tigers) giving up only 3 hits across five quality innings and adding 7 strikeouts versus Siena.

These are three very capable arms, and the Tigers have to continue to be patient at the plate, work counts, and play fundamental, situational baseball.

The UCF bullpen seems to have yielded the majority of the opponents runs across four games.

The Knights had a very successful weekend manufacturing a lot of runs with most of them coming by way of the long ball (11 Home Runs as a team).  Outside of Catcher Ben McCabe, and super reserve/sometimes starter Brady Shannon, the averages are pretty pedestrian.

Clemson Baseball faces a quality opponent in UCF this weekend

This is a quality opponent for the Tigers coming into Doug Kingsmore Stadium for the second home series for the Tigers.  I do expect some adversity at times over the weekend, however, based on what I saw last weekend and what I know about UCF, if the Tigers can limit the long ball, they should be just fine.

Keeping with the tradition of not picking against the Tigers, I truly believe Clemson takes 2 of 3 from the Knights this weekend.

Enjoy the games!  Go Tigers!

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