SERIES THREAD: Southern Miss vs FAU - Mar 28th - 30th, 2014
What: Southern Miss (13-12, 4-2 C-USA) at FAU (14-10, 3-6 C-USA)
When: Fri, Mar 28th at 6:30 PM
Sat, Mar 29th at 4:00 PM
Sun, Mar 30th at 12:00 PM
Where: FAU Baseball Stadium
Projected Starting Pitchers
Fri: USM - RHP Christian Talley (1-1, 2.12 ERA)
FAU - LHP Austin Gomber (2-3, 3.92 ERA)
Sat: USM - LHP Conor Fisk (1-1, 2.70 ERA)
FAU - RHP Jeremy Strawn (2-4, 3.55 ERA)
Sun: USM - RHP Cameron Giannini (2-1, 3.47 ERA)
FAU - RHP Drew Jackson (2-0, 2.55 ERA)
Florida Atlantic returns to the home turf after being swept by Rice (2-0, 14-1, 3-2). The setback marked the first time the team had lost a trio since doing so at Louisiana-Lafayette back in April of 2011. Saturday's 14-1 thumping was the worst run deficit in the Owls' last 66 games.
Obviously hitting played the crucial role, as two of the games combined for just seven runs by both teams, and leaders Stephen Kerr and Ricky Santiago went just 2-of-25 over the stint. But there was a notable effort in Mitch Morales' 5-of-12 (.417) showing at the plate. Morales made a full return, starting all three games, and will continue to be looked upon for leadership.
“It is great to have Mitch back in the line-up", said Head Coach John McCormack. "He is a two-year starter and brings a calming influence to our team and especially the infield. He makes the guys around him better. The more at bats he has the better off he will be.”
Getting an early jump in the runs category could play favorably for FAU, who is undefeated when leading after the third inning on the year. The Owls are also enjoying a national ranking of 17th nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 2.95 to one, while tossing the fewest walks per nine innings (2.62) in Conference USA.
With only six league contests under their belts, the Eagles got a later start than the Owls did, not playing their first tilt until March 14th. After taking 2-of-3 from UTSA over the weekend (6-2, 1-4, 10-9) Southern Miss defeated #9 Ole Miss 5-3 on Tuesday in mid-week play. A four run sixth inning was the deciding factor, and shortstop Michael Sterling went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored.
Southern Miss' Friday night man Christian Talley earned C-USA Co-Pitcher of the Week honors by throwing the squad's first complete game against the Roadrunners. Despite giving up a pair of scores early, Talley set down 14 of the last 15 UTSA batters he faced.
Third baseman Bradley Roney, who also sees time as the team's closer, is edging towards a program mark for saves. The junior righty is currently first in the conference standings with seven for the year, and needs just six more to break the all-time mark of 30 for the Eagles.
Garnering the first and second most errors in the league thus far (USM 45, FAU 42), both teams will look to improve upon their fielding percentage for the series. Southern Miss has turned 21 double plays this season through their first 24 contests, but the Owls trail in that department with 17. Florida Atlantic has hit into 12 themselves.
USM has a team batting average of .243 (10th C-USA), and the pitching staff enters the weekend with a conglomerate 3.70 ERA effort (9th C-USA). Conversely, the Owls come in with a mark of .277 at the plate (5th C-USA) and 2.99 on the mound (5th C-USA).
Weather for the weekend looks relatively favorable aside from game two. Averaging out the main outlets' forecasts, Friday is currently offering a 23% chance of rain or showers, Saturday 56%, and Sunday 26%.