March 14, 2013
Boca Raton, FL - The Florida Atlantic University baseball team will open defense of last season's Sun Belt Conference (SBC) regular-season championship with a three-game series against South Florida rival FIU, starting on Friday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the FAU Baseball Stadium, 777 Glades Road on the Boca Raton campus.
The important series also has games scheduled on Saturday, March 16 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, March 17 at 1 p.m.
The Owls clinched last year's title with a home victory against FIU - one of five straight victories over the Panthers, including a three-game sweep to open the league campaign. The team went 19-8 and led the SBC wire-to-wire in winning their second regular-season title in the last three seasons.
This year, FAU brings an 11-7 record into conference play after picking up a 15-6 victory over the University of Maine on Wednesday, March 13. Coach John McCormack scheduled his team to play an ambitious non-conference schedule, facing ranked teams from North Carolina State University (No. 10), University of Miami (No. 20) and Florida Gulf Coast University (No. 23). The Owls have faced teams from nine different conferences, including the Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Big East and Big 12.
Florida Atlantic enters the weekend after posting a season-high 17 hits in a 15-6 win over the University of Maine on Wednesday, March 13. The 15 runs matched a season high set nearly a week earlier at Florida A&M University.
Junior outfielder Tyler Rocklein went 5-for-6 with three runs batted and three runs scored. He hit his third home run of the season, legged out a double and hit three singles in the contest.
Rocklein, a junior college transfer, now lead the Owls with a .314 batting average. Others leading the offense are junior second baseman Sean Murrell and senior outfielder Corey Keller, both hitting .308, and sophomore shortstop Mitch Morales, who is batting .302 with nine RBI.
Junior catcher Levi Meyer has driven in 10 runs - three coming in Wednesday night's victory -- and is hitting at a .290 clip. Senior first baseman Mark Nelson was last week's SBC Player of the Week after hitting three home runs and driving in eight runs.
On the mound, FAU's pitching staff has compiled a 3.28 earned run average (ERA) and ranks 16th nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3-to-1). The team has allowed just 49 walks in 162 innings this spring.
Sophomore left hander Austin Gomber anchors the starting rotation with a 1-1 record and 2.08 ERA. He leads the team with 22 strikeouts.
Senior right hander Jake Meiers, the No. 2 starter, has recorded 16 strikeouts and a 1-2 record. Jeremy Strawn, a junior right hander, rounds out the weekend rotation with a 1-0 record and a 2.62 ERA. The bullpen is led by senior Hugh Adams, who has all five saves this season - building on his school-record 18 career saves.
FIU enters the weekend with a 10-8 record and is coming off a 4-3 victory over USF in 10 innings on Wednesday. The Panthers were picked second to FAU in the league's preseason poll. FIU has five players hitting .300 or higher, led by Edwin Rios with a .371 average. Aramis Garcia has three home runs and 17 RBI, while batting .352 at the plate.
Live audio and statistics of the three games will be available at www.fausports.com.
Season and single-game tickets are available by contacting the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.