UCF baseball takes on No. 22 Auburn in three-game series

UCF sophomore infielder Griffin Bernardo (11) is greeted by his teammates at home plate after scoring a home against the Siena Saints at John Euliano Park on Feb. 15. The Knights defeated the Saints 3-2.

After winning the first four games of the 2019 season, the UCF baseball team will look to continue its success on the field this weekend against the No. 22 Auburn Tigers in a three-game series at John Euliano Park. 

UCF opened the season last weekend with a three-game sweep against the Siena Saints, followed by a win over the Stetson Hatters on Tuesday.

The Knights did not have a steady start to the 2019 campaign, despite their 4-0 overall record so far this season.

The Knights were tied with the Saints 2-2 heading into the ninth inning of the season-opener. With one out and bases loaded, UCF sophomore infielder Griffin Bernardo scored on a throwing error by the Saints' shortstop, giving the Knights the 3-2 win in a walk-off fashion.

UCF breezed past Siena through the rest of the weekend series, defeating the Saints 5-1 in game two and 7-1 in game three. 

UCF redshirt junior left-handed pitcher Jaylyn Whitehead got his first start as a Knight during Tuesday's game against the Hatters. Whitehead gave up four hits with two strikeouts and two walks in the four innings he pitched. He threw one bad pitch that led to a two-run home run, allowing Stetson its only two runs of the night. 

The Knights' offense came alive during the game, as they racked up 11 hits and 10 runs to defeat the Hatters 10-2. This momentum is huge as the Knights look to continue that success against the Tigers.

“It’s a big series you know, and we know that and we're excited for it," Whitehead said after the game on Tuesday. "But we also know that we’re going to bring it to them."

With the offense clicking on all cylinders led by redshirt junior center fielder Ray Alejo, senior outfielder Chandler Robertson and sophomore outfielder Dalton Wingo, the Knights are ready for a tough opponent like Auburn.

“Seeing guys click right now … It’s huge for the confidence going into the weekend," Alejo said. "It’s going to be a good weekend."

Auburn is coming into the series 4-1 with a loss in extra innings at the hands of Georgia Southern. 

The Knights look for redemption after the last matchup against the Tigers when Auburn defeated UCF 7-4 during the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Tallahassee Regional.

UCF head coach Greg Lovelady said he is excited for the challenge and is ready for his team to show what they are made of in this series.

“We got a huge challenge so we got a big two days of practice to get ready, but you’re going to face some elite arms and an elite team," Lovelady said. "But these are the type of teams that you can gauge yourself on where you’re at."

The three-game series against the Tigers starts Friday with the first pitch at 6 p.m at John Euliano Park.

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