The highly lauded UCF offense did not disappoint in the opening weekend of the year.
In a three-game sweep of Siena, UCF, who is ranked No. 22 in the Baseball America poll, outscored the Saints by a combined score of 28-5. After a 4-1 win on Friday, the offense put up double-digit scoring totals both Saturday and Sunday.
There were several Knights who had big offensive weekends, but the biggest was probably by senior infielder Dylan Moore. Moore went 7-for-14 in the series, with 9 RBI, two triples and a home run.
"We want to be able to dominate all facets of the game, that's a main goal for us," said Moore on Sunday. "And to be able to do that yesterday and today, improving on Friday's win … we showed that we can really improve from day to day, and I think that's something that's really good with our team."
Moore was second on the team in hitting last year, posting a .315 average. In the offseason, the California native played summer ball in Los Angeles where he won the California Collegiate League MVP.
"The bottom line is [Moore] is a great hitter, can steal bases, knows how to handle the bat," Rooney said. "Offensively, Dylan has continued to get better, he's stronger, he's put on a lot of weight in the offseason and again he's a very special player and he's going to have a great year for us."
At the conclusion of the weekend, Moore was named American Athletic Conference Player of the Week.
As good of a weekend as Moore had, in a way it was expected, and because of this, may have been overshadowed by another Knight with seven hits — Kyle Marsh
Marsh, a true freshman, started all three games for UCF, and ended the weekend 7-for-13 with three doubles, a home run and five RBI. Marsh also intrigues because he does so many things for UCF.
Friday and Saturday he started in left field, and Sunday at second base. He also will see time on the mound at some point this season for UCF.
"Kyle Marsh is a great player," Rooney said. "He's a guy that can do a lot of things for us … obviously he's off to a great start and has taken advantage of his opportunity, I just told the guys that, no matter who you are, you have to take advantage of your opportunity, and Kyle's done a great job."
From a UCF standpoint, likely one of the most exciting things about the offense was the fact that it wasn't heavily reliant on seniors. Coming into the year with eight returning starters, it could have been that playing time was tough to come by.
But as Marsh proves, there is going to be opportunities for younger players this season, especially before conference play starts. Sophomores Matt Diorio and Eugene Vazquez also combined to go 10-for-19 in the three games.
To go along with the offense, the UCF bullpen had a great showing in the first weekend of the year. Pitchers out of the pen for UCF threw 10.2 innings on the weekend, struck out 17 and did not allow a run.
This was all started on Friday night when Harrison Hukari entered the game in the sixth inning to relieve starter Zach Rodgers. Hukari, a junior who redshirted last season for UCF, pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in his first appearance in over a year. He recorded seven of his 10 outs by way of the strikeout.
"When I got back here, I worked with coach really hard to iron out things," Hukari said of his fight to return from injury. "I think the biggest thing was fastball command, establishing the fastball to both sides of the plate to set up other pitches."
UCF goes on the road for the first time on Friday as they will play Arkansas in its first game of the South Alabama Tournament in Mobile.
Colin Bell is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Email him firstname.lastname@example.org.