SERIES THREAD: East Carolina vs FAU - Apr 25th - 27th, 2014
What: East Carolina (25-17,11-7 C-USA) at FAU (21-19, 9-12 C-USA)
When: Fri, Apr 25th at 6:30 PM
Sat, Apr 26th at 4:00 PM
Sun, Apr 27th at 12:00 PM
Where: FAU Baseball Stadium
The Owls have faced the Pirates one time previously, coming away with a 9-8 win at home in 2001.
Projected Starting Pitchers
Fri: ECU - RHP Tyler Bolton (2-3, 1.90 ERA)
FAU - LHP Austin Gomber (2-6, 3.50 ERA)
Sat: ECU - TBA
FAU - RHP Jeremy Strawn (3-4, 3.14 ERA)
Sun: ECU - TBA
FAU - RHP Drew Jackson (5-1, 2.75 ERA)
Looking to rebound after a heartbreaking 10-9 loss to the University of Miami last night, the FAU Owls (21-19, 9-12) aim to improve their league stock heading into a weekend series versus the Pirates of East Carolina.
Some recent performances may suggest that the Owls are creeping out of the constant offensive struggles that have plagued them since mid-February. They scored nine runs in the recent loss to UM, and they scored thirteen runs in the second game of their series versus FIU last weekend – just their fourth time scoring in double digits.
Fortunately, opponents of FAU Baseball haven’t scored too many runs. Florida Atlantic's defense is keeping the team competitive – opposing teams have scored six runs or more just ten times thus far.
The Pirates have three players who are hitting over .300 currently, and six pitchers with an ERA under three. That same pitching rotation has surrendered just thirteen home runs on the year.
However, the Owls will catch what should be a huge break in the absence of ace Jeff Hoffman, who is out for at least the next two series due to soreness in his throwing arm during routine work on Wednesday. Hoffman was named the Conference USA Pitcher of the Week after striking out 16 batters in the Pirates' game against Middle Tennessee.
ECU is 17-0 when leading after five innings, and the dynamic between what could still be a solid performance on the mound and an FAU squad that has to scrape together runs should be interesting to watch unfold.
East Carolina (25-17, 11-7) has excelled in close games – twenty of their wins this year have come by five runs or less. They are just 7-8 on the road this year, and this will be their first trip to Florida this season.
This weekend is one of just two home series that the Owls have remaining. They are 14-9 at FAU Baseball Stadium so far for 2014.
Florida Atlantic won game one of their series against East Carolina 4-3 in come from behind fashion on Friday night. The victory improved the Owls to 22-19 overall, but more importantly edged them closer towards .500 status in league play at 10-12.
With the Pirates ahead 1-0 in the 1st, Tyler Rocklein singled to knock in Ricky Santiago. Brendon Sanger later scored after a sac fly from Robert Buckley, and the Owls held a 2-1 advantage after a full inning.
But FAU found themselves in the hole later in the 4th as ECU (25-18, 11-8) broke a 2-2 tie for the lead.
Rocklein (2-for-4, 2RBI) would find the sweet spot on his bat once again later in the 8th though, this time for a triple that drove in Brendon Sanger which tied the game at three apiece. Kevin Abraham (2-for-4) followed that with what became the game winning RBI as he singled to left field to plate Rocklein.
Austin Gomber pitched seven strong innings, scattering six hits while yielding two earned runs. However, it was Kevin Alexander who picked up the win after retiring all six batters in his two innings of work. Together, the duo combined to sit down the last 16 Pirates they faced.
Five of the eight Owl hits came from the 2-3-4 batters in their lineup. East Carolina batters in that portion of the order, by comparison, went 1-11 on the day.
Jeremy Strawn will look to bring his record to 4-4 in the second game of the series tomorrow at 4:00 PM at FAU baseball Stadium.
Local Owl saidA couple of weeks ago I mentioned that we are getting no production from our back up catcher. Since then he has been hot as heck. And we are winning . Way to step it up. This is what happens with very young players and a view of what this team will be like in the coming years. I tip my hat to the effort this young guy is showing. Keep it up.Posted On: Apr 25th 2014, 10:04 PM
Sooo….the backup catcher has been the key to the turn around?
FAU lost the second game of their series to East Carolina this afternoon by a score of 6-4.
Run support was hard to come by – the Owls managed as many hits as they did runs, and did not register a run in the first six innings of play. ECU (26-18, 12-7) totaled five runs in the first three innings, and the Owls found themselves staring at an early deficit.
In the bottom of the seventh, FAU scored three runs, two which came after CJ Chatham singled to right field, scoring Tyler Rocklein and Brendon Sanger. Kevin Abraham lined out at the next bat, leaving Chatham stranded on third and ending the FAU scoring threat.
Down 6-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Owls (22-20, 10-13) would push over one more run when Brendon Sanger scored after a grounder from CJ Chatham. Esteban Puerta then replaced Billy Endris as a pitch hitter, but struck out swinging to end the game.
Puerta failed to add a badly needed jolt to the back of the Owls batting order. The 6-7-8 hitters registered no hits between them on the day.
The FAU defense also yielded two errors, which are particularly inconvenient giving the offensive struggles the team saw.
Jeremy Strawn had a rough outing, giving up five unearned and ten hits in just over four innings of work. Andrew Archer finished the game and performed effectively, surrendering one hit and one earned run.
Drew Jackson will have his turn at stifling the ECU offense on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 12:00 PM.
As was the case all series long it was another close ball game on Sunday. Unfortunately, FAU was on the short end of the stick, losing 2-1 and dropping the series with ECU 1-2.
Sluggish bats plagued the Owls (22-21, 10-14 C-USA), who produced three hits a single run – which they scored after a CJ Chatham single plated Tyler Rocklein from second base.
Several Owl batters reached base after being walked, on after being hit by a pitch, only to see the next man end their scoring threat. With Rocklein and Sanger on first and second respectively, Robert Buckley grounded out to end the eighth inning. Buckley went 0-4 on the day, and 0-10 for the series.
ECU (27-18, 13-8 C-USA) scored a run in the third and fifth innings, respectively. Solid pitching kept FAU in contention – Drew Jackson gave up both unearned runs in just over four innings over work, and the combination of Bo Logan and reliever Kevin Alexander yielded just two hits.
Billy Endris was subbed out in the bottom of the ninth for the second consecutive game. Saturday, it was Esteban Puerta, and today it was Sean Labsan who came in for Endris. Representing the winning run, Labsan struck out with Kevin Abraham on first base.
FAU will now play single, non-conference games versus Florida Gulf Coast and Bethune Cookman, respectively on Tuesday and Wednesday night at home.
As of now, FAU is ninth in the conference, on the outside looking as far as the conference tournament seeding goes. Only the top eighth teams will make the conference tournament. As the season winds down, the Owls badly need to make up conference ground in their series versus Old Dominion and UAB.
Local Owl saidWhen we are bad, we are bad. Two games,seven hits. We look terrible at the plate. Fans are talking about making the tourney? Really? Loosing on Sunday 2-1 never happened in the past. This team just has to work on the off season on hitting.Posted On: Apr 27th 2014, 3:53 PM
Thought that ECU being down their ace would help us win the series…obviously we got Friday, but NEVER expected 11 K's on Sunday from Lucroy who had a total of just seven for the entire season entering the game. But then again, he had a pretty impressive showing last year.