In the midst of its worst slide of the season, losing 11 of its last 17 games, it's not about to get much easier for the UCF baseball team.
The Knights (26-16, 5-7) travel to Greenville to take on the East Carolina Pirates (26-16, 6-6) this weekend in their fifth conference series of the year.
The series has big conference tournament implications for both teams. UCF is currently sixth in the conference, and ECU is fourth, but they are separated by just one game. Whichever team wins the series will end the weekend ahead of the other in the American Athletic Conference standings.
Neither team has yet released their official starting rotation for the weekend, but Friday night will likely feature Cre Finfrock for UCF against Evan Kruczynski for ECU.
After a hot start in which he was 5-0, the freshman Finfrock has returned to Earth, but is still putting up solid numbers. He's 6-3 with a 3.17 ERA and has struck out 51 while walking 22 so far this year.
If Kruczynski does get the start for ECU, it will be because its regular Friday night starter, Reid Love, has still not recovered enough from his injury. Kruczynski got the start last Friday against UConn and registered the win, moving him to 6-2 on the year.
Another thing to watch this weekend is when Zach Rodgers will start for the Knights. Rodgers has thrown complete games and got the win in now three consecutive weekends for UCF, and lowered his ERA all the way down to 2.07 in the process. The three Rodgers' victories are also the only three conference wins UCF has had during that time frame.
There is a chance UCF head coach Terry Rooney will move Rodgers back into the Friday night role that he had when the season started, but it is more likely that he will instead start Saturday or Sunday so that, in a scenario where he's needed late in the game, Rodgers could potentially relieve Friday night and still pitch on Sunday.
First pitch for the games are 6:30 pm on Friday, 4 pm on Saturday and 1 pm on Sunday.
Colin Bell is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Email him at email@example.com.