May 19, 2013
Boca Raton, Fla. - The Florida Atlantic University baseball team will be one of hottest teams heading into the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) tournament, taking a seven-game winning streak into a first round game against Western Kentucky University (WKU) on Wednesday, May 22 at 10 a.m. from Lafayette, La.
The Owls, the tournament's No. 4 seed, enters postseason play after successive three-game series sweeps at WKU (May 10-12) and at FIU (May 16-18), along with a home midweek victory over UCF (May 14). The team brings in a 35-20 record for the season and a 19-11 SBC mark, tying for third place in the competitive league.
Wednesday's FAU-WKU winner will advance to the winner's bracket game against either top-seeded Troy University or Arkansas State University on Thursday, May 23 at 5 p.m. The FAU-WKU loser will play on Thursday at 10 a.m. and must win to stay in contention in the double-elimination tournament.
The Owls and Hilltoppers are no strangers to first round SBC tournament games, opening against each other for the fourth straight season. FAU has won two of the three prior meetings, including a 4-3 victory last season. The two teams split meetings in 2010 and 2011, with both games going extra innings.
Individually, senior Nathan Pittman is tied for team-high honors with 40 runs while leads the squad with 63 hits, 39 walks and 11 stolen bases. The outfielder has also hit four home runs, has 35 runs batted in and is hitting .339 from the leadoff spot in the lineup. Pittman scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning of last year's SBC tournament victory over WKU.
Freshman Brendon Sanger carries a .355 batting average with 40 runs scored. Junior Levi Meyer has connected on four home runs, with 31 RBI, and is batting .328. Sophomore Mitch Morales rounds out the team's .300-or-better hitters with a .313 average and 32 runs scored.
On the mound, the Owls led the SBC with a 3.63 earned run average (ERA) during the regular season. Sophomore Austin Gomber (5-3) had a league-best 2.80 ERA, while junior Jeremy Strawn finished second with a 3.05 ERA. Strawn (5-3) tossed his second complete-game shutout of the season against FIU on May 17, and Gomber had 88 strikeouts in 14 starts and 86 innings this season.
Senior closer Hugh Adams is tied for the SBC career record with 28 saves after adding 15 to that total this season. Junior reliever Kevin Alexander is 3-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 19 appearances, sophomore Bo Logan (5-1, 2.72 ERA) leads the team with 25 pitching appearances and versatile senior Jake Meiers (5-3, 4.78 ERA) can be a starter or middle reliever.
WKU is 28-27 on the season and went 16-14 in SBC play during the regular season. The Owls outscored the Hilltoppers 29-11 in the recent three-game series sweep in Bowling Green, Ky. Ryan Huck leads the offensive attack with 15 home runs, 53 RBI and a .372 batting average. Scott Wilcox and Steve Hodgins are also .300 hitters in the WKU lineup.
Live video of Sun Belt Conference tournament games will be available free at www.sunbeltsports.org.