Final word: How disappointing was UCF’s defeat in the Coral Gables Regional?
Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 16:06
At 11 p.m. on Saturday, the UCF Knights were a team poised to make history.
The Knights had just defeated Stony Brook, 9-8, putting Terry Rooney’s ball club one win away from advancing to its first ever Super Regional.
Stony Brook rallied back furiously, though, taking the next two games on Sunday and Monday, ending UCF’s season and hopes of making it to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series.
So now we ask, just how disappointing was the Knights’ collapse in Coral Gables this past weekend?
Inability to finish will overshadow remarkable season
--Steven Ryzewski, Sports Editor
The worst thing about UCF’s collapse in Coral Gables is that, for some time, it is going to be what people remember about the 2012 season.
Let’s be fair. Stony Brook was underrated. I personally underestimated the Seawolves, and sure, maybe that had something to do with them being named the Seawolves. But fact is, Stony Brook was dominant.
But what really happened Monday night wasn’t just an end to a season that came a bit too early. What really happened was that a remarkable season was seemingly instantly overshadowed.
UCF played some great baseball in 2012. The Knights ascended the national polls, as high as No. 7 in the nation, and spent a majority of the season in the top 20. UCF saw jumps in attendance to complement the expanded upper deck at the Berg, and the program generated a level of buzz and excitement even during a spring where most of the school’s fan base had mentally checked out.
We saw some great things out of stars like D.J. Hicks, Ronnie Richardson, Joe Rogers and Alex Friedrich. The games were entertaining, sprinkled with highlight reel plays here and there, and the club finished with 45 wins — a pretty big deal.
But, here’s what 2012 will be remembered for: not finishing.
UCF didn’t finish against Rice in a weekend series where it took the opener but could not win either of the following games. And, more importantly, the Knights didn’t finish after jumping out in the winner’s bracket of regionals, needing only one more win in two tries.
Now, with a seemingly good chunk of the team heading off to the minor leagues following the MLB First-Year Player Draft, the program faces some uncertainty in 2013. Hopefully, though, people can remember 2012 for the remarkable season it was.
They’ve just got to overlook the obvious disappointment.
Disappointed feeling rooted in UCF’s success
It’s not to take away from the accomplishments that filled the 2012 season — in fact, it’s because of every milestone achieved this year.
If the Knights were a mediocre team who were lucky to see the postseason, you might feel accomplished with forcing a game seven in an NCAA regional, but that’s just not the case for UCF.
They were a team who had realistic expectations to make it beyond the first round, which had a commanding lead in the Coral Gables Regional and let a tremendous opportunity slip away.
The Knights were in control of their own destiny and couldn’t close out a series they easily should have won, and it’s their talent and the high expectations that make the ending so disappointing.
UCF has a solid lineup one through nine, with speed and power up and down the order. D.J. Hicks put the team on his shoulders and did everything short of pitch for the Knights this weekend.
Unfortunately for UCF, there wasn’t a starting pitcher who rose to the occasion on Saturday or Sunday. The pitching staff, which at times in the regular season was able to carry the team through offensive struggles, didn’t play to its full potential the last two games.
After cruising to the regional championship game, perhaps the Knights were a little bit overzealous and set their sights to Super Regionals, instead of focusing on the immediate task at hand.
Luckily for UCF, the future remains bright. The underclassmen will mature as ballplayers, and the juniors will continue to refine their talents. There’s no reason to think the Knights can’t fight back hard next season and finally take the road to Omaha.
Lost opportunity should be kept in perspective
--Mary Stevens, Contributing Writer
The Knights have wrapped up their baseball season a little earlier than expected.
UCF fell short of its goal of getting to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
On Saturday night, the dream of participating in the CWS was alive and well. The Knights were undefeated and were comfortably sitting in the winners bracket. All they had to do to get to Omaha was win one more game. One win on Sunday or Monday night against Stony Brook, a club they’d just beat, was all they needed.