March 13, 2014
RUSTON, La. - With two straight wins under their belts, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will travel to the "Sunshine State" to take on Florida Atlantic in a three-game Conference USA road series beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday in Boca Raton, Fla.
The Bulldogs come into this weekend with a 6-10 overall record and a 1-2 mark in league play, while FAU is 12-6 on the season and will also enter the series with a 1-2 league record on the season. The Owls are currently 9-4 this season when playing at their home venue of FAU Stadium. This weekend marks the second consecutive road series for the Bulldogs, who lost twice to Texas A&M last weekend before defeating the No. 25-ranked Aggies Sunday, 5-1, in College Station.
"We are playing a regional team from last year in Florida Atlantic and it is at their place, so we have to go out there and fight to win our first series of the year," head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "This weekend could not be a better time to do it and our guys are going to be ready to compete."
After Friday night's contest, the two teams will continue the series at 3 p.m. CT Saturday before wrapping up the weekend at 12 p.m. CT Sunday afternoon in Boca Raton, Fla.
A LOOK AT THE OWLS
Florida Atlantic, a team that won 42 games and made a regional a year ago, will host its first Conference USA series of the season this Friday after opening league play last weekend at UTSA, a series they lost 2-1 in San Antonio. Coming into this season, FAU was picked to finish second in the preseason Conference USA polls behind preseason favorite Rice. Most recently, the Owls are coming off a midweek split against Maine after dropping the first game, 3-2, before winning the second contest, 15-6, Wednesday night. FAU has an overall record of 12-6, including notable wins over Notre Dame, Miami and Boston College. The Owls are coached by John McCormack, who is now in his sixth season as head coach at Florida Atlantic.
As this is LA Tech's inaugural season as a member of Conference USA, the Bulldogs are set to experience some firsts along the way, starting with this weekend's series against the Owls of Florida Atlantic. Louisiana Tech has never faced the Owls on the baseball diamond in the history of both teams and FAU is one of four total C-USA teams the Bulldogs will face off with for the first time this season.
At the plate
Taylor Love has taken over the top spot for the Bulldogs at the dish with a .345 batting average this season. Love leads the team in hits (19) and runs (10), and is also coming off one of his best games as a Bulldog after going 3-for-4 with his first career home run earlier this week against Grambling State. Both Tyler Ervine and Bre'shon Kimbell are tied for the team lead with three home runs apiece, while Stephen Gandy continues his hot streak at the plate with a .429 average in nine games and a four-game hitting streak. As a team, LA Tech is hitting .247 this season with 19 doubles, a triple and nine home runs.
Florida Atlantic comes into the series with a .299 team batting average with 32 doubles, four triples and seven home runs. The Owls are led by Stephen Kerr, who is hitting .388 with five doubles.
On the mound
Louisiana Tech will stick with the same rotation from last weekend with a trio of right-handers set to take the mound, starting with sophomore Adam Derouen Friday night. Phil Maton and Richie Navari are scheduled to start on Saturday and Sunday for the Bulldogs.
The Owls will start off the series with junior left-hander Austin Gomber, followed by right-handers Jeremy Strawn and Drew Jackson for games two and three. As a whole, FAU has an ERA of 2.67, which ranks fifth among all Conference USA teams.
WITH THE CALL
This weekend's series at Florida Atlantic will be broadcast on the LA Tech Sports Network on KNBB 97.7 FM with Patrick Walsh calling all the action from all three games between the Bulldogs and Owls. Audio will also be available on LA Tech All-Access for subscribers. Live stats will be available via GameTracker by accessing the link on the baseball schedule page on LATechSports.com.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Baseball, please follow @LATechBSB on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.