SERIES THREAD: FAU @ FIU - Apr 18th -20th, 2014
What: FAU (19-17, 7-11 C-USA) at FIU (26-10, 10-8 C-USA)
When: Fri, Apr 18th at 6:00 PM
Sat, Apr 19th at 4:00 PM
Sun, Apr 20th at 1:00 PM
Where: FIU Baseball Stadium
The Owls lead 52-44 all time versus the Panthers, and have won five of the last six meetings.
Projected Starting Pitchers
Fri: FAU - LHP Austin Gomber (2-5, 3.19 ERA)
FIU - RHP Mike Franco (5-2, 1.04 ERA)
Sat: FAU - RHP Jeremy Strawn (3-4, 2.87 ERA)
FIU - RHP Cody Crouse (6-1, 1.05 ERA)
Sun: FAU - RHP Drew Jackson (4-1, 2.91 ERA)
FIU - RHP Chris Mourelle (3-2, 1.50 ERA)
A lot has changed since the teams last met in the 2013 season. The Owls outscored the Panthers 32-21, and posted two shutouts, in the year's six meetings. Fast forward to today and one could argue that the squads are now polar opposites, with FAU inconsistent at the plate (155 runs, 9th C-USA) and FIU pounding away willfully (225 runs, 1st C-USA) at times.
The Owls enter Friday's opener coming off a 2-1 loss to #11 Miami on Wednesday night in Coral Gables. UM plated two early runs that went the distance, although the Owls did provide a late scare for the Hurricanes, tallying three hits and a run in the top half of the ninth while leaving two on as the game concluded.
Last weekend, Florida Atlantic took two-of-three from Charlotte. Brendon Sanger hit a walkoff single in the ninth on Friday for a 3-2 win, and Jeremy Strawn tossed a three-hit shutout, earning Conference USA Pitcher of the Week honors as FAU won 8-0 over the 49ers on Saturday. However, Sunday's game saw an 11-1 Charlotte victory as the Owls were mercy-ruled for the first time this season.
For his last seven starts, Florida Atlantic's Friday night man Austin Gomber has averaged seven plus innings while sporting a healthy ERA of just 1.82. Also worth mentioning is Gomber's strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.6:1 and the fact that he ranked 22nd in career strikeouts (222) among active D-I pitchers as of April 15th's reporting. Thanks goes to statistician extraordinaire Mike Brown and FAU SID Brandon Goodwin for these nuggets.
As a team, Florida International is atop the league in both hitting (.298) and pitching (1.85 ERA) collectively. The biggest contributor at the plate is catcher Aramis Garcia, who has swatted six long balls (T-1st C-USA), earned 22 walks (1st C-USA), and has 31 runs scored (T-3 C-USA). Garcia was name to the Johnny Bench watch list award earlier in the year.
It must be noted however that the Panthers scored a total of just two runs in their series against UAB (1-2), and were outpaced by Rice 24-11 in Miami back in the middle of March in a sweep by the Owls. Both of those opponents currently sit atop the standings, while FIU claims five of their ten C-USA wins against bottom dwellers Charlotte (13th) and LA Tech (12th).
On the mound, RHP Mike Franco has posted 70 strikeouts on the year, placing him 8th nationally. Franco's ERA of 1.04 is good enough for 14th in the country. FIU has three pitchers in the top 40 ERA wise, and is tied with just LSU and South Carolina for the most shutouts with 11.
The Panthers, who are enjoying last weekend's 2-1 series win over Louisiana Tech in Ruston, took the midweek off. They are 17-6 in Miami on the year. The main chance of weather there looks to be on Saturday, which currently has a 50% chance of rain in the forecast.