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SERIES THREAD: #20 FAU @ WKU - May 14th - 16th, 2015


What: FAU (36-15, 17-10 C-USA) at WKU (24-26, 10-17 C-USA)

When:  Thu, May 14th at 7:00 PM
Fri, May 15th at 7:00 PM
Sat, May 16th at 2:00 PM

Where: Nick Denes Field

Audio: Here

Stats:  Here


The Owls lead 17-9, have won five of the last six contests, and last swept WKU (7-2, 10-3, 12-6) in 2013.

Projected Starting Pitchers:

Thu: FAU - RHP Kyle Miller (5-3, 4.02 ERA)
WKU - LHP John Harman (4-4, 4.37 ERA)

Fri:  FAU - LHP Drew Jackson (5-2, 2.28 ERA)
WKU - RHP  Brennan Pearson (0-5, 3.35 ERA)

Sat: FAU - LHP Brandon Rhodes (3-1, 3.36 ERA)
WKU - RHP Josh Bartley (6-4, 4.85 ERA)

Ricky Santiago hit his 2nd gram slam of the season on Tuesday night, but it wasn't enough as the Owls fell 14-6 to Miami in Coral Gables and put them on the losing end of the season series 1-2. Santiago is now tied with OF Christian Dicks for the team lead with seven homers.

The Owls also suffered their first series sweep of the season over the weekend, dropping three in a row vs. No. 17 Rice. After being shut out on Friday, FAU scored a late run on Saturday to keep an impressive streak alive - the Owls have not been blanked twice in a series since 1989.

Sophomore SS CJ Chatham and freshman OF Billy Endris each hit safely in all four games last week, with Chatham scoring twice and driving in three runs.

Junior OF Brendon Sanger had three hits and three runs scored in a 10-2 win over UCF on May 6. He leads C-USA in batting average (.365) and on-base percentage (.484). Seven of FAU's eight regular starters (rotating catchers) are hitting at least .275. The Owls have seven starters with at least 23 walks.

While Florida Atlantic has already secured a berth in the C-USA Tournament, WKU will be potentially be vying for one of the two remaining spots this weekend against the Owls.

After dropping three heart breakers earlier in the week, WKU won its series finale 12-3 at Marshall on Sunday which snapped an eight game conference losing streak. The Tops surrendered five runs in the ninth inning to fall at Lipscomb on Tuesday and lost their first two games against Marshall by a combined three runs, despite out-hitting them 15-8 in the first two contests.

Western Kentucky's Sunday bounce back was led by junior 3B Danny Hudzina's career high 5 RBI. Hudzina tallied multiple hits in all three games of series against the Thundering Herd, and posted a homer, triple and walk in Sunday's victory. So far, he leads WKU with 22 multiple-hit games and 10 multi-RBI performances for the season.

The Hilltoppers received career performances from three of its four starting pitchers during the week as Austin King (7.2 vs. Lipscomb) and John Harman (7.1 vs. Marshall) worked career-long starts, while Brennan Pearson equaled a career high with six strikeouts Saturday.

Senior OF Philip Diedrick cranked three home runs during the week to up his season total to eight homers. Junior OF Anderson Miller (12), Diedrick (8) and Hudzina make WKU the only team in C-USA to feature three players on its roster with 8 or more home runs in 2015.

Forecasts at Nick Denes Field are not the best, with moderate chances of precipitation scattered around and during scheduled playing times for all three games.

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As we enter the final week of the regular season, FAU stands in 3rd in the C-USA, and can finish anywhere from the #2 to the #5 seed in the tournament.

To reach the #2 seed, FAU must either complete a 3-game sweep WKU and MTSU must not win any games, and suffer at least 2 losses to Southern Miss, or FAU win at least two with no losses at WKU and MTSU suffer a 3-game sweep at the hands of Southern Miss.

As FAU holds the tiebreaker and has a one-game lead over Southern Miss, FAU's magic number over Southern Miss is 2. There are all kinds of scenarios, starting with Southern Miss taking at least 2 versus MTSU and FAU's series being completely rained out, by which Southern Miss could overtake FAU. The bottom line is any combination of FAU wins or Southern Miss losses totaling 2 or more, and FAU will finish no worse than 4.

With a 2-game lead and holding the tiebreaker over UTSA, FAU's magic number over UTSA is 1. Any FAU win or UTSA loss will result in FAU finishing ahead of UTSA.

There are 3 possible 3-way tie scenarios. In a 3-way tie for first with Rice and MTSU, FAU will be 3rd. In a 3-way tie for second with MTSU and Southern Miss, FAU will come in 3rd. In a 3-way tie for 3rd with Southern Miss and UTSA, FAU will be 3rd. In 2-way ties for 3rd or 4th with either Southern Miss or UTSA, FAU will place in the higher seed. In 2-way ties for 1st or 2nd with either Rice or MTSU, FAU will place in the lower seed. Since Southern Miss faces MTSU, there is no possible 4-way tie that involves FAU.

In short, if FAU takes one from WKU, it can finish no worse than 4th and can still finish 3rd. If FAU takes 2 or more from WKU, FAU will finish 2nd or 3rd. If FAU suffers a 3-game sweep by WKU, FAU will finish anywhere from 3rd to 5th.

There are five teams that have clinched C-USA tournament berths: Rice, MTSU, FAU, Southern Miss, and UTSA. La Tech is the only team eliminated. That leaves six teams vying for the final three spots: UAB, FIU, ODU, Charlotte, Marshall and WKU. A single win by UAB, or a single loss by each of Charlotte, Marshall and WKU will secure UAB a spot in the tournament.

FIU and ODU are currently tied for 7th, with FIU holding the tiebreaker. FIU can finish anywhere from 4th to 11th. ODU can finish anywhere from 5th to 11th. It is still possible for a 5-way tie for 6th or 7th. FIU's magic number is 2. However, instead of being just being a combination of FIU wins and losses by each of Charlotte, Marshall and WKU, because of FIU's tiebreakers, also a single FIU win and single WKU loss will put FIU in the tournament. FIU and ODU can both suffer 3-game sweeps and still make the tournament.

Charlotte, Marshall, and WKU all need at least 2 wins to make the tournament, but with most tiebreaker scenarios will need 3.

My prediction for the C-USA tournament:

#1 Rice
#3 FAU
#5 Southern Miss
#6 UAB
#7 ODU
#8 FIU

Had the Southern Miss vs MTSU series been in Hattiesburg, I would have FAU 2nd,, Southern Miss to 3rd, and drop MTSU to 4th. Apparently D1Baseball thinks Southern Miss will take it anyway as they have Southern Miss joining Rice and FAU in the regionals, but not MTSU. I have Southern Miss ending tied with UTSA, but UTSA holding the tiebreaker.
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Rick said

Forecasts at Nick Denes Field are not the best, with moderate chances of precipitation scattered around and during scheduled playing times for all three games.
Posted On: May 13th 2015, 7:43 AM #345227


Tonight now looking overcast but free from precipitation. However Friday and Saturday still offer uncertainty.

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There is not much more frightening than an animal backed into a corner, but that is what Florida Atlantic will be facing in Bowling Green when it takes on the Hilltopers of WKU at 7:00 pm. FAU has secured a spot in the C-USA Tournament, and is fighting for a seed between 2nd and 5th. WKU is fighting for it post-season life. They have a lot of seniors that realize that if they do not make the tournament, this is their last series, and they are not ready for it to end. The Owls have hit a bump in the road, and are aiming to get things in order as they head into the post-season.

The starters for tonight's game:

FAU: Kerr 2b, Lashley 1b, Sanger lf, Santiago 3b, Collins cf, Puerta dh, Endris lf, Chatham ss, Miller R c, Miller K p

WKU: Kraft dh, Miller cf, Hudzina 3b, Church 1b, Diedrick rf, Wofford ss, Murray lf, Messex c, Clarkson 2b, Harman p
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