FORT MYERS, Fla., - The FGCU baseball team returns to action after a 13 day layoff when they take on the Stetson Hatters for a three game series in DeLand, Fla., beginning on Friday.
FGCU (29-12, 19-5 A-Sun) is in the middle of a nine game road trip. It was originally an 11-game road swing, but two games at Florida were canceled earlier this week. The Eagles lost their first two on the trip but rebounded to win the next four including a sweep of Jacksonville. The Eagles bring the top ERA and fielding percentage in the conference to face Stetson, the preseason A-Sun favorite. FGCU has an ERA of 3.26 and a fielding percentage of .970. The Eagles have a 3 ½ game lead with a chance to extend the lead to five games over second place Lipscomb this weekend.
The Hatters (19-28, 9-15) are fighting to get into the conference tournament. Currently, Stetson is the #6 seed but would fall out of that spot with a series loss to FGCU. Stetson has only missed the A-Sun tournament one time since joining the conference in 1987. Despite the struggles this season, the Hatters are still a very dangerous team. Three starters are hitting over .370 and are among the A-Sun leaders in batting average. Player of the Year candidate Jeremy Cruz leads the Hatters with an average of .400. Cruz is also among the league leaders in RBI with 43 and homeruns at 12. His .718 slugging percentage leads the conference.
The Eagles will likely throw Richard Bleier (Davie, Fla.), Casey Coleman (Cape Coral, Fla.) and Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) against Stetson. Bleier is a favorite to win Atlantic Sun pitcher of the year, as he leads the league in ERA (1.70), wins (6), complete games (4) and innings pitched (69.0). Coleman, one of the top two-way threats in the league, has made a team-high 10 starts with a 4.68 ERA and is hitting .315 with a .523 slugging percentage. Woodworth is 9th in the league in ERA at 4.03, he is also among the league leaders in strikeouts with 54. Stetson is expected to send David Burns, Nick Pugliese to the mound on Friday and Saturday and the Hatters have not determined a Sunday starter yet. Burns is a lefty who will be making his first start of the season. He has a 2.12 ERA in 17.0 innings this season. Pugliese, a right hander, has thrown 54.0 innings and has a 4.17 ERA with a 3-3 record.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 pm in Melching Field on Friday night.