Boca Raton, FL - A talented pitching staff, one of the Sun Belt Conference’s top hitters and several new faces will lead a Florida Atlantic University baseball team seeking a return to postseason play two seasons after winning a conference title and advancing to the championship game of the 2010 NCAA Division I Gainesville Regional.
Head Coach John McCormack’s 2011 squad posted 32 victories, captured the season series with South Florida rival University of Miami, tied for fourth in the challenging SBC and had several players advance onto playing professional baseball.
In anticipation for this spring season, www.fausports.com will take a positional breakdown of the Owls, starting with the pitching staff. FAU boasts a deep and experienced pitching unit, with three returning starting pitchers, a quality middle reliever and one of the nation’s top closing relief pitchers.
Senior right-hander Ryan Garton has been the team’s Friday night starting pitcher for the last two seasons. Redshirt sophomore Kevin Alexander returns as a quality starter after missing last season with an arm injury. He is expected to join newcomer Jeremy Strawn to round out the weekend starting rotation. Alexander was the No. 3 starter during the team’s 2010 SBC regular-season championship season. Another starting candidate on the mound is junior Jake Meiers, a right-hander who had victories over in-state rivals UCF and Miami last season as the mid-week starter.
“Pitching is always the key to any team’s success,” said McCormack. “Good pitching beats good hitting, and we’re fortunate to have a quality and deep pitching staff. In the past, offensive firepower dominated college baseball. However, I think pitching is becoming more of a factor in having success. Our pitching has a chance to dominate games because we have strong starters, quality middle relievers and shut-down closers.”
Junior R.J. Alvarez will move to the bullpen and provides stability as a key set-up man for those talented closers. He was named as one of this year’s top 100 college prospects by Baseball America. Alvarez will be the lead-in for senior closer Hugh Adams, who earned all-conference and all-region honors after leading the SBC with 10 saves last spring. Seniors Ahmed Garcia and Josh Gonzaga are versatile and experienced arms that McCormack will also utilize in the bullpen.
Newcomers adding depth to the pitching staff will be junior-college transfers Kenny Sharpe, Gregg Bennis and Michael Sylvestri. Freshmen Julian Loret de Mola, Kevin Perez, Brett Nizamoff, Austin Gomber and Kyle Moeder had strong fall workouts, and are anxious to make their collegiate mound debuts. Redshirt freshman Bo Logan and junior Nathan Pittman are dual-threat pitching options when they’re not playing in the outfield.
The Owls begin the 2012 season on February 17 against the University of Alabama of Southeastern Conference. The team's home opener will follow a week later, on February 24 at 6:30 p.m. against Manhattan College. It will begin a four-game weekend set. Live audio and statistics of all games can be found at www.fausports.com.
For season tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com or call the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.