BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Florida Atlantic University baseball team, coming off a season-opening sweep of George Washington over the weekend, faces another undefeated squad in defending National Champion and No. 1 Florida, Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in Gainesville.
The Owls (3-0) utilized fantastic pitching and defense for the first two wins, and that along with key hitting late, for the third. To start the series, FAU hurlers pitched 17 1/3 innings of shutout baseball. In game one, Jake Miednik threw six innings of one-hit baseball, and was backed up by Blake Sanderson and Zach Schneider (earning the save) for the combined shutout. On Saturday, starter Kyle Marman also threw six shutout innings, allowing just four hits.
In game three, trailing 2-0, a Kevin Abraham sacrifice fly in the seventh halved the margin, and in the ninth, with two on and two out, Diamond Johnson walked off the sweep with a single to right field. All told throughout the weekend, Owls’ pitching allowed just 18 hits and three earned runs in 27 innings, walking three and striking out 25.
Offensively, Eric Rivera is leading the way on the early season with a .444 batting average, and David Miranda is hitting an even .300. Johnson paces the team with four RBI, including the two to clinch the sweep on Sunday.
The Owls will turn to sophomore righthander Nick Prather to face the Gators (3-0) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium at Perry Field. A year ago, Prather pitched strictly out of the bullpen, going 1-0 with a 4.86 ERA in 11 appearances, spanning 16 2/3 innings. Florida will go with a righty as well, Jack Leftwich, a freshman making his collegiate debut.
In their three-game sweep to start the year, the Gators outscored Siena, 36-5, including 19-2 on Sunday. Five UF hitters that started all three games are batting .333 or higher, Keenan Bell hit two of the team’s six total home runs, and he and both Jonathan India and Blake Reese have five RBI.
On the hill, all three UF starters this past weekend went at least six innings, giving up 13 combined hits and three earned runs. Comparatively, FAU’s weekend rotation did the same inning-wise, with all three starters going six innings, they too giving up 13 total hits and only two earned runs. UF’s three combined for 21 strikeouts and two walks, FAU’s starting totals were 17 K’s and also just two walks.
Florida holds a 19-7 all-time advantage in the series. The two teams didn’t match up last season, last playing in 2016, a 2-1 Gator win in Gainesville. The last FAU victory came on April 1, 2014, also in Gainesville, by a 5-4 score in 11 innings.
The Tuesday night tilt will have live FAU audio at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkWAQ_e5s2M, and UF will offer streaming video at http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3296258/florida-atlantic-vs-florida. When the Owls return home this next weekend, to face Delaware beginning on Friday, single-game or season tickets can be purchased by calling 1-866-FAU-OWLS or visiting www.fausports.com/tickets/baseball-tickets.html.