Jan. 28, 2013
Boca Raton, FL - Pitching should once again be a strength for a Florida Atlantic University baseball team preparing to defend last year’s Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship.
As the spring season approaches, FAUSports.com begins a positional breakdown of the team, beginning with the pitching staff that will be on the mound this season.
“The pitching staff is coming together, and there is depth with pitchers who can start, be middle relievers or close out games,” said FAU Head Coach John McCormack, starting his fifth season in leading the Owls.
FAU returns two starting pitchers from last season’s talented weekend rotation. Anchoring those starters is sophomore Austin Gomber, a left hander who went 3-4 with a 3.82 earned run average. He ranked second on the team with 63 strikeouts in 61.1 innings, and tossed six shutout innings against Middle Tennessee State University. Then, the Winter Garden, FL native had a career-high 10 strikeouts in a victory over FIU.
Junior right hander Kevin Alexander (pictured left) won five of his six 2012 decisions and ranked among the SBC leaders with a 3.29 ERA. The Coral Springs, FL native allowed just 11 walks in 54.2 innings. He scattered four hits and had four strikeouts in a win at Western Kentucky, and prepared for this season by winning the FAU program’s Iron Owl Award that showcases strength, mental toughness and game knowledge.
Adams returns to the mound after missing 2012 with an injury. He earned first-team All-South Central region honors after leading the SBC with 10 saves in 2011. The Bethesda, MD native has appeared in 70 games during his career.
“We’re glad to have Hugh back and he should be a key piece to our bullpen,” said McCormack. “It’s nice to know you have someone with experience at saving games under fire.”
Strawn made just two starts in 2012 before suffering a season-ending injury. When on the mound, he compiled a 1.93 ERA in appearances against the University of Alabama and Manhattan College.
McCormack-coached teams have always had strong bullpens, highlighted by having three straight first-team Sun Belt Conference closers. First, in 2010, there was Andy Mee, who handed the responsibility to Adams in 2011, and R.J. Alvarez had five wins, eight saves and a 0.72 ERA in 22 appearances last season. That performance earned Alvarez a third-round selection by the Los Angeles Angels in last summer’s Major League Baseball draft.
“Championships are won at the back end of a bullpen,” said McCormack. “Having pitchers that can strike people out is important. Our bullpen guys have always known their role to the team and the important role they have in closing out a game.”
Sophomore Bo Logan started six games but also made 11 relief appearances last season. The left hander finished with 43 strikeouts compared to 13 walks and posted a 4-3 record. Senior Michael Sylvestri (pictured right) also has served in multiple roles in the bullpen, and had two saves and 28 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. Classmates Gregg Bennis had seven relief appearances late in the 2012 season and Jake Meiers made seven starts last year. Sophomore left hander Brett Nizamoff also provides depth and a valuable left-handed option to the bullpen.
“The back end of the bullpen will be one of our team strengths,” said Coach MacCormack. “We accomplished a lot of last season’s goals because we were so good in late-inning situations with Michael, Bo, Ahmed Garcia and R.J.”
Adding depth to the pitching staff include freshmen Michael Emigh (Davie, FL/Flanagan), Domenick Mancini (Weston, FL/American Heritage-Plantation), Seth McGarry (Bradenton, FL/Lakewood Ranch) and Brandon Rhodes (Lake Worth, FL/Park Vista). Junior newcomers are Andrew Archer (Davie, FL/Broward College), Alex Koji (Lake Worth, FL/Palm Beach State College), and Jimmy Tornabene (Palm Beach Gardens, FL/Palm Beach State College).
“We are fortunate to have Andrew (Archer), who was second among Florida junior college closers,” said McCormack. “Hugh and Andrew provide us with a great luxury of having two guys that have closed games at a high level.”
The Owls open the season against the University of Cincinnati on Friday, February 15 at 6:30 p.m. from the FAU Baseball Stadium, 777 Glades Road. Live audio and statistics of games will be available here. Season tickets are available by contacting the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.