Baseball Opens Sun Belt Conference Play at FIU on Friday

March 15, 2012

Game Notes

Boca Raton, FL - The Florida Atlantic University baseball team will open Sun Belt Conference action with a three-game series against South Florida rival FIU, beginning on Friday, March 16, at 7 p.m. in Miami. The series will conclude on Sunday, March 18.

The Owls stand 11-7 on the season and are coming off an 8-5 home victory over Fordham University on March 13.

Senior infielder/catcher Mike Albaladejohas set the table for FAU's offense so far this spring, being second on the team with a .384 batting average while switching from the lead-off to No. 2 spots in the batting order. He has had three-hit efforts in six games this season and has scored 15 runs.

Junior catcher Mike Spano is hitting at a .378 clip and has a hit safely in five consecutive games, while junior third baseman Kyle Newtonleads the team with 19 runs batted in and is batting .329 at the plate. Newton has also connected on three home runs in his first season as an Owl.

Fellow junior outfielder Corey Keller has also added to the power supply, blasting two home runs and driving in 12 runs. Junior first baseman Mark Nelson is one of seven .300-or-better hitters on the FAU team. Freshman infielder Ricky Santiago has legged out four doubles, while freshman shortstop Mitch Moraleshad a key two-out, run-scoring single in the victory over Fordham.

In the pitching department, senior right hander Ryan Gartonanchors the staff with a 3-1 record and a sparkling 2.45 earned run average and a team-high 24 strikeouts. He is scheduled to be the starting pitcher in Friday's series opener against the Panthers.

Sophomore Kevin Alexanderhas posted a 2-0 record with a 1.56 ERA, and plans to make his second start of the season on Saturday, March 17, at FIU.

Junior reliever R.J. Alvarezis tied for team-high honors with three victories - all in relief. He posted a victory against Fordham on March 13 with 2.2 scoreless innings. The right hander has a 0.57 ERA after allowing just one earned run in 15.2 innings. He has also struck out 18 of the 56 batters faced this season, and the opposition had a .196 batting average when Alvarez is on the mound.

Overall, Florida Atlantic's pitching staff has a 4.56 earned run average.

Meanwhile, FIU enters the weekend with an 8-7 record and is coming off splitting a mid-week series against the University of North Florida. The Panthers were preseason co-favorites to win the league, while the Owls tied for fourth, according to a coaches' poll. The team is led by senior third baseman Mike Martinez with a .488 batting average and 12 RBIs. Junior rightfielder Nathan Burns has legged out three triples and scored 11 runs, while junior Adam Kirsch leads the team with 13 RBIs despite missing the last three games. FIU's pitching staff is led by senior left hander R.J. Fondon at 3-1 with a 2.59 ERA. He is scheduled to be the starting pitcher in Sunday's series finale. Junior left hander Mason McVay is planning to be the starter on Friday night. He has a 1-1 record after starting four games.

Live audio and statistics of each game in the series can be found at For season tickets contact the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.

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