USF (17-20, 7-8 Big East) at UCF (21-18, 4-5 C-USA)
When: Tonight, 6:30
Where: Jay Bergman Field
Radio: 740 AM
The story: For the second consecutive Tuesday, USF is traveling across I-4 to face UCF in the final of three meetings this season. The Knights won the first meeting 11-0 on April 4, and the Bulls rallied to a 4-3 victory on April 11. Along with the season series being split, the all-time series is tied at 47 wins apiece.
Senior Kris Howell leads the Bulls in at-bats (142), hits (50), batting average (.352), on-base percentage (.411), total bases (56) and is second in runs scored (23). Howell is riding a seven-game hitting streak and has two or more hits in three consecutive games. USF will start either left-hander Nick Manganaro or right-hander Jim Cassidy. Manganaro earned his second win of the season against UCF on April 11 and saved the first game of his career on Friday against Louisville. Cassidy is 2-2 on the year and has 20 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings.
Sophomore Tyson Auer leads the team in batting average (.369), triples (6) and slugging percentage (.544), is second in stolen bases (13) and is tied for third in runs scored (22). Junior right-hander Tim Bascom leads the Knights in wins (5), ERA (1.25), innings pitched (65), strike outs (80) and opponents’ batting average (.175). Knights right hander Taylor Meier is expected to start, and he comes into the game with an 0-1 record. The 6-foot-7 sophomore has pitched 10 2/3 innings and has surrendered seven earned runs.
The Bulls captured two of three games against Louisville over the weekend, while UCF is returning home after winning two of three against Tulane.
Keep an eye on: Freshman shortstop Addison Maruszak. He leads the team in runs scored (24), doubles (11) and walks (19) and is third in the team in RBI (20) and batting average (.314). During the last meeting with UCF, Maruszak went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
– Brendan Galella