Eagles To Battle No. 5 Miami on Tuesday
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast University baseball team, fresh off a series win over conference foe Jacksonville in which they clinched their third consecutive A-Sun Regular Season crown, will travel to Coral Gables to face No. 5 Miami on Tuesday night at Alex Rodriguez Park. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start and will be carried live on ESPN770.com.
Date: Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
Location: Coral Gables, Fla.
Game Time: 6 p.m.
Stadium: Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field
Radio: Dave Moulton - ESPN 770
Live Stats: HurricaneSports.com
Junior Jack Wagoner (Berlin, Conn.) will be on the hill for the Eagles, who are looking to snap Miami’s 16-game home winning streak, for his second start and 24th appearance. The righty has given up 38 hits over 30.0 innings, with 27 strikeouts. Freshman Steven Ewing will be making his fifth start of the year for the Hurricanes. Over 18.2 innings, the lefty has allowed 23 hits and 14 runs, with 12 strikeouts and 11 walks.
In the last meeting between the two teams, the Eagles fell to then-No. 13 Miami, 9-0, in the “Battle of the Birds” at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla., in front of a loud and boisterous crowd of 3,627. David Gutierrez got the start for the Hurricanes and the righty pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing no hits in the winning effort. Miami plated their nine runs on 10 hits in the game, while FGCU registered one hit off the bat of Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.).
Miami (37-13, 19-8 ACC overall) comes into the matchup having won eight of the last 10 games, including wins over USF, Maryland and Georgia Tech. Yasmani Grandal, who is currently projected to be a 1st Round draft pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, leads The U with a .425 batting average, 53 RBI, and 21 doubles. The junior is also second on the squad in homers (12), behind Harold Martinez’s 17 home runs. Grandal is having one of the most productive seasons for an ACC hitter in league play in quite some time. Through 27 ACC games, the catcher is hitting an impressive .474 in conference play, going 46-for-97. He is currently hitting 89 points higher than the next-highest hitter (Georgia Tech’s Matt Skole is second at .385) and has four more hits in league play than any other batter, while leading the ACC in doubles (14), total bases (86), on-base percentage (.579) and slugging percentage (.887).
Currently No. 8 in the RPI, the Hurricanes have a 3.64 team ERA this season, which trails only Virginia (3.50), and their 449 strikeouts as a team trails only North Carolina (451). Miami’s ERA is the eighth-lowest in the country and nine UM pitchers that have logged double-digit innings this year own ERAs under four, highlighted by E.J. Encinosa's 1.66 ERA in 38 innings of work.
The Eagles (34-17, 22-5 A-Sun) enter the contest fresh off a series win over JU. FGCU claimed their third consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championship on Friday (May 14) as Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.), who was recently placed in the top 25 for the National Pitcher of the Year Award, went seven innings and improved to 9-0 on the year after allowing two earned runs on six hits to go with 14 strikeouts and no walks in the contest.
Through 51 games, FGCU holds a .332 team batting average with seven players hitting above .315. The team is led Mikel Alvarez’s (West Palm Beach, Fla.) .393 average with 14 doubles, 52 runs scored, four home runs, and 33 RBI. Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario), who is a quarterfinalist for the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award and also ranked 28th in the nation in hits, is second on the squad with a .372 average to go with his 30 RBI, 55 runs, and 17 stolen bases. Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.), Smierciak, and Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) provide the power bats for the Eagles. Roberson, FGCU’s leader in homers (13) and RBI (58), is hitting .333 on the season with a .573 slugging percentage. Smierciak is hitting .316 with nine round-trippers and 48 RBI, while Maxfield, the 2010 A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year, has hit .370 with eight home runs this season to go along with a team-high 47 walks (13th in the nation).
The Blue and Green have outscored their opponents 415-301 thus far, and have a pitching staff that has an ERA of 5.22 and struck out 433 batters while walking 306.
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