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UCF vs Alabama NCAA Preview

Updated: Jun 3




Article by Don Strouble


It’s safe to say that on Monday at noon, many people across the state of Florida were firing up their grills and getting in their pools in celebration of Memorial Day. For the Knights baseball team, this part of the federal holiday would be spent learning about their fate in the 2024 NCAA tournament. 

 

UCF, who had fallen to Oklahoma State in the semifinal round of the Big 12 championship series three days prior, secured the No. 3 seed in the Tallahassee Regional with an RPI ranking of 33 in Rich Wallace’s first year as head coach. 

 

The Knights were able to earn their first appearance in the tournament since 2017 after putting together a record of 35-19. Despite going 14-15 in Big 12 matchups, UCF was able to go 19-3 against opponents outside of the conference, which aided them in receiving an at-large berth.

 

UCF will make their way four hours north to Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee for a 6 p.m. Friday matchup against the Alabama Crimson Tide in a double elimination setting. Alabama is coming off a regular season in which they went 33-22 overall but struggled against the competitive SEC, which saw six of its programs finish the season in the top 25. The Crimson Tide will enter as the No. 2 seed with an RPI ranking of 24. 

 

Both UCF and Alabama have winning records in neutral territory as they prepare for their showdown in Florida’s capital. UCF’s pitchers will be tested against an Alabama team that has showcased a high-scoring offense many times throughout the season. Led by the consistent bats of third baseman Gage Miller and catcher Mac Guscette, the Crimson Tide scored 10 or more runs in 20 of their games in 2024. 

 

The Knights will be going to work against an Alabama pitching staff that has the 111th-ranked ERA in Division I baseball at 5.68. UCF posted a collective batting average of .285 this season, as their top three averages were produced by Matt Prevesk, Jack Zyska, and Big 12 championship series sensation Danny Neri, who hit 5/10 overall in the championship series and had a record-breaking three home run performance against Cincinnati. 

 

Though UCF suffered a blowout semifinal loss to the eventual Big 12 champion OSU Cowboys, Rich Wallace and his team have had an impressive stretch recently, as both of their Big 12 championship series wins came against superior-ranking competition in the conference. Perhaps they are getting hot at the right time, as the stakes have been raised. 

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