SERIES THREAD: FAU @ Old Dominion - May 2nd - 4th, 2014
What: FAU (22-22, 10-14 C-USA) at Old Dominion (27-18, 13-11 C-USA)
When: Fri, May 2nd at 6:00 PM
Sat, May 3rd at 3:00 PM
Sun, May 4th at 1:00 PM
Where: Bud Metheny Baseball Complex
Projected Starting Pitchers
Fri: FAU - LHP Austin Gomber (2-6, 3.41 ERA)
ODU - LHP Andy Roberts (3-2, 2.63 ERA)
Sat: FAU - RHP Jeremy Strawn (3-5, 3.65 ERA)
ODU - LHP Ryan Yarbrough (5-5, 3.61 ERA)
Sun: FAU - RHP Drew Jackson (5-2, 2.70 ERA)
ODU - RHP Victor Diaz (2-2, 3.11 ERA)
Having now lost eight one run ball games in 2014, Florida Atlantic is surely hoping to see an end to the growth of the stat, as the last two seasons registered the same count combined.
After losing last weekend's series against East Carolina (4-3, 4-6, 1-2) in which four rotation players went O-fer at the plate and the team batted just .167 collectively, FGCU added insult to injury on Tuesday by leveling the squad to an even .500 mark with a 3-2 win at FAU Baseball Stadium. A lot can be said about hitting, but the bottom line is that the talent level on The Hill has increased over previous seasons.
"To me the conference USA pitching this year [when compared to Sun Belt pitching] is considerably better from starters, to closers, to relievers", said Coach John McCormack.
Now the Owls currently find themselves in a peculiar place - on the outside looking in with regards to making the C-USA Tournament later in the month. Never having missed a conference tournament since moving to Division I in 1995, this is something that would upset the apple cart of history to say the least. Given RPI, safe to say there is no way an at large bid will ensue.
A sweep over the Monarchs would likely do some wonders for immediate needs though, as it would give FAU another tie breaker and also thicken the plot for those programs just above them in C-USA standings: Florida International (7th) and Middle Tennessee (8th). Both the Panthers and Blue Raiders still have three series to go. FIU is eyeing Tulane as a possible potential lock, but will also face MTSU head on. Meanwhile, MTSU will needs tackle UTSA (5th) and Marshall (10th).
"Got to get some hits with runners in scoring position", McCormack said. "We've had guys on base, we've pitched fine, and we've played good defense. We've just got to get some guys across home plate."
One of the guys he can likely look to is Tyler Rocklein, who has led the team with a .431 average over the last two weeks. The senior connected for 10 hits, 6 runs, and 6 RBI during the span. Mitch Morales is listed as day to day, but did make the trip. Levi Meyer is working his way back in already, having seen some time against FGCU.
Old Dominion is riding high after an 8-1 win over #1 Virginia on Tuesday night. The victory marked the first time in program history that they have taken down a top ranked opponent. It was C-USA's first since 2009, and 7th all-time.
The Monarchs are tied with UTSA in team hitting with an overall average of .280, which is good enough for 3rd in Conference USA. But where they really shine is in fielding (97.5%, 27th NCAA) while committing only 43 errors all season.
C-USA doesn't have many power hitters this year, however Old Dominion has enjoyed 1B Josiah Burney's bat to the tune of six homers. Burney, who is also slugging a healthy .500 (2nd C-USA) and has an on base percentage of .420, is one of four players above .300 in the consistent line-up employed.
Sophomore PJ Higgins is another Monarch that the Owls will need to keep an eye on. Higgins splits his time behind the plate and at 2nd base on defense, but has notched 60 hits on the year, with 14 of those being doubles. More importantly, he's crossed home 31 times.
ODU calls the Bud Metheny Complex home. The facility is named after former skipper Arthur “Bud” Metheny (48'-80'), who was the last New York Yankee to wear Babe Ruth's No. 3.