UCF – Rice series brings a record amount of spectators

A+record+6%2C601+fans+attended+the+series+against+Rice+last+weekend.

Bryan Levine

A record 6,601 fans attended the series against Rice last weekend.

Head coach Terry Rooney has been saying for months that he wants the Knights to be “Orlando’s baseball team,” and he may just have gotten his wish with the turnout for UCF’s series against Rice.

A school-record 6,601 fans witnessed the historic series against Rice, though many may have left disappointed, as the Knights could not seize their opportunities and lost to the Owls.

“I expected this, to be honest with you,” Rooney said. “This program has come a long way, and for us to continue to grow, we need that fan support to continue. I can assure you that the pedal is to the metal with me, and I’m not stopping.”

Although rain played a big factor in the first two games of the series, UCF had the fifth largest crowd of all time Saturday night, with 2,687 rowdy fans in attendance – despite being delayed an hour due to rain and lightning.

It should be taken into consideration that the top four largest crowds have been against in-state schools, which resulted in a majority of opposing fans. All three games over the weekend had about one-fourth of Rice fans compared to UCF supporters, which is impressive, especially given that this time of the year has the lowest number of students attending UCF.

This further encouraged Rooney’s opinion about how UCF should be “Orlando’s team.”

“We want to be Orlando’s baseball team,” Rooney said after Saturday night’s loss. “We’re looking forward to another great crowd tomorrow.”

Senior long reliever Bryan Brown excelled in his duty as a mop up pitcher, Saturday afternoon, and managed to keep the Knights in a game they would eventually lose. The senior threw six-plus innings and surrendered just two runs.

“It was great. It really made me happy to put on the uniform,” said an emotional Brown referring to the standing ovation he received from 2,131 UCF fans who recognized the senior’s hard-work in what could possibly be his last game pitched at Jay Bergman Field. “It was something special, what these people did for me today, I appreciate it.”

While the Knights may not play another home game in 2012, they’re a team that is only getting better, and the Orlando community recognizes that. With the completion of phase two of three of renovations at Jay Bergman Field to be made during the offseason, the amenities of the ballpark will soon be able to accommodate Rooney’s wish of becoming “Orlando’s team.”