What: FAU (28-21, 12-12) vs. Louisiana Tech (25-25, 13-11)
When: Fri, May 12th @ 6:30 PM
Sat, May 13th @ 4:00 PM
Sun, May 14th @ 12:00 PM
Where: FAU Baseball Stadium
Video: C-USA TV
Live Stats: Here
Louisiana Tech Team Site: Here
Series: Owls lead 6-5 all-time against the Bulldogs.
Projected Starting Pitchers:
LA Tech - LHP Jonathan Fincher (8-3, 4.01 ERA)
FAU - RHP CJ Williams (1-1, 3.07 ERA)
LA Tech - TBD
FAU - RHP Tyler Murphy (1-0, 4.88 ERA)
LA Tech - TBD
FAU - RHP Nicholas Del Prado (5-3, 5.18 ERA)
With the end of the regular season starting to close in, the Owls find themselves in a competitive race for higher seeding in the Conference USA Tournament.
Currently sitting at the fifth spot, FAU won't be able to secure a top-two seed due to the dominant performances of Dallas Baptist and UTSA, both of who have achieved national rankings multiple times throughout the season. The Owls are still within reach for third place, which is being held by Charlotte, a team that they have the tiebreaker advantage against after winning two out of three in North Carolina. Should FAU go undefeated or have at least five wins and have outside results go their way, their chances of finishing third in the standings would look solid.
Hosting their last C-USA series, the Owls will want to finish the three-game set against the Bulldogs with a bang. In Saturday's matchup, they will be honoring 11 players for Senior Day.
- P Hunter Cooley (25 career wins; consecutive Second Team All-C-USA nominations in 2021 and 2022)
- P Jacob Josey (11 career wins; C-USA All-Freshman in 2019)
- P Robert Wegielnik (Six career wins and 11 career saves; career-best 1.89 ERA this season)
- P Evan Waterbor (Four career wins; career-highs in innings played (35) and strikeouts (34) this season)
- P Tibur Rivero (Three career wins; career-highs in innings played (38.1) and strikeouts (33) in 2022)
- P Marc DeGusipe (Two career wins; career-highs in innings played (32.2) and strikeouts (28) in 2022)
- 3B Jackson Ross (Career-highs in batting average (.342), hits (65), RBI (41), and home runs (8) this year)
- LF Dylan Goldstein (Second Team All-C-USA in 2022; career-highs in hits (66), RBI (63), runs (51), and home runs (18) this season)
- DH Mitchell Hartigan (Ranked fifth in C-USA and in the top 30 nationally with 19 doubles in 2022; has a career-high .322 batting average this season)
- SS Armando Albert (Led the Owls with 45 walks in 2022; scored 58 runs, got 53 hits, and batted five home runs this season)
- C Andrew Hernandez (Has five hits, three RBI, and one home run this season)
It is probable that Nolan Schanuel would be important to how FAU's batting unit comes out to start the series against the Bulldogs. The junior outfielder tops the nation in on-base percentage (.610), is second in slugging percentage (.902) and walks (52), and has the third-best batting average (.454) behind West Virginia's J.J. Wetherholt (.470) and LSU's Dylan Crews (.457).
Spencer Rich (pictured) is another player who should have eyes be kept on him. He is on a three-game hitting streak which includes a game-winning two-run homer to secure the series win over Charlotte. His recent performances gave him five RBI and two home runs, which boosted his overall batting average to .302.
How the Owls' bullpen performs throughout the weekend might play a key factor in how they fare against Louisiana Tech's batters. One notable change is freshman Tyler Murphy taking over Saturday's starting slot, which will be his third start on the mound this season. He collected four strikeouts as a reliever against Charlotte last Saturday, only allowing four hits and three runs in four innings.
The starters (in non-batting order) for game one should be that of the below:
RF John Schroeder
CF Spencer Rich
LF Dylan Goldstein
1B Nolan Schanuel
2B Christian Adams
3B Jackson Ross
DH Mitchell Hartigan
SS Armando Albert
C Caleb Pendleton
P CJ Williams
Like the Owls, Louisiana Tech also sees themselves fighting for favorable seeding in the C-USA standings.
Sitting above FAU at the fourth spot, both teams would be facing one another in the first round of the conference tournament. Winning three of their last four games, the Bulldogs do have a chance to go as high as the third seed should they win their remaining C-USA contests and Charlotte drops some games along the way.
A primary area FAU should exploit is the Bulldogs' inconsistency with their batting. None of their players are hitting .300 or above, with their best production coming from catcher Jorge Corona with a .292 average, nine home runs, and 30 RBI.
One player the Owls' bullpen should watch out for is outfielder Philip Matulia, who has 15 home runs on the season which ties him for 68th in the country. He also has the second-most RBI on the team with 36 so limiting his production when he steps up to bat will help FAU gain an edge in the series.
When it comes to pitching, Jonathan Fincher has been strong with his ability in striking out batters. Nationally, he stands among the top 100 (tied-86th) for the most strikeouts with 74 this season, so getting plenty of hits early on for Friday night will benefit the Owls in starting the three-game affair on a strong note.
After this matchup, the Bulldogs will host what will be their last three-game set of the regular season against UTSA starting May 18.