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Memphis baseball looks to turn things around with a home series versus UCF

<p>Alec Trela follows through on his swing. The Illinois native leads the teams in runs.</p>
Alec Trela follows through on his swing. The Illinois native leads the teams in runs.

The University of Memphis baseball team (8-17, 0-3 American Athletic Conference) has struggled lately, but the team has a chance to secure three wins with a home series against the University of Central Florida (18-8, 1-2 AAC).

Memphis had a chance to make a statement Tuesday night against No. 5 Arkansas but came up short by one run. The Razorbacks broke the tie in the final inning to win 8-7.

The loss extends the team’s losing streak to four games. Memphis is 2-8 in their last 10 games. The Tigers will look to break 10 wins on the season with a three-game home stand against UCF.


A look at the opponent


UCF is one of the more offensive-driven teams Memphis has faced this season. The Golden Knights have posted double-digit runs in six games this year, including a 20-1 drubbing of Chicago State.

The 19-run victory is a high point of their season, but the team’s highest points so far came against three top-25 opponents.

On the opening day of the season, UCF knocked off No. 15 University of Virginia 6-3.

A month after their win against Virginia, the Golden Knights faced in-state opponent and top-ranked team in the nation, the University of Florida. The Golden Knights defeated the No. 1 Gators twice, beating them at home 9-7 and away 4-2.

Most recently, UCF defeated conference opponent No. 18 East Carolina 9-1. The Golden Knights fell to ECU in their last two games after winning the first of the series.


What to watch


UCF has one of the most high-powered offenses in the AAC. The Golden Knights have the 34th highest run total nationally, with 172 runs so far this season. The team relies on their heavy hitters, so the Memphis pitching staff will need to have a firm grip on the three-game series.

The Golden Knights have only played five games on the road this season, losing three and winning two. The Tigers won five of their eight wins at home. UCF could struggle in unfamiliar territory at FedExPark.

Memphis is catching UCF at the right time. For the first time since the start of the season, the Golden Knights are coming off back-to-back losses. The Tigers will look to take advantage and extend UCF’s losing streak.


Players to watch


Memphis outfielder Tyler Webb

Webb leads the Tigers in batting average (.330), hits (30) and runs (17). The senior is also second on the team in RBIs (15). In all but one of the Tigers’ wins this season, Webb has recorded at least one run or RBI. When he is playing, the team is typically successful.


Memphis infielder Kyle O’Keefe

O’Keefe is having a solid senior campaign. He is currently on a two-game home run streak and leads the Tigers in the category with three home runs. O’Keefe is third on the team in slugging percentage (.371). Memphis needs their slugger to be consistent if they want to have some success in the upcoming series.


Central Florida infielder/pitcher Rylan Thomas

The sophomore leads the Golden Knights in nearly every category. He has the fifth-most RBIs in the nation with 34. Thomas is also ranked eighth nationality in batting average (.454). He has 44 hits over the course of 26 games. Thomas has been the x-factor for the Golden Knights this season.

Alec Trela follows through on his swing. The Illinois native leads the teams in runs.

Tyler Webb takes a swing. The Texas native is one of five seniors on the 2018 roster

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