The baseball team is in a bit of a funk having lost three in a row, four of its last five and six of its last nine. However, they’re still 14-11 overall and 3-3 in the conference.
Florida Atlantic is a very good team, so losing a series to them isn’t the end of the world.
Moving on to the other Florida team, FIU started conference play losing a series to a very good Charlotte team, but then bounced back by taking 2-of-3 on the road against Rice.
They come into this series with an overall record of 14-10, including a couple of quality wins over Miami.
Offensively the Panthers are eighth in the conference with a batting average of .274, while averaging 5.8 runs per game – and 4.5 runs per game in conference play.
The team’s leading hitter is senior outfielder Christian Khawam who is hitting .405 in just 42 at-bats. However, Kenny Meimerstorf (.356) and Irving Lopez (.326) have started every game this season and lead the offense.
Lopez is tops on the team in runs scored (20), triples (2), RBI (19) and total bases (46). Meanwhile, Meimerstorf leads the team in hits (32) and doubles (6).
This is a very capable offensive team, but our pitching staff should be able to hold them down.
As for the FIU pitching staff, they are fourth in Conference USA with a team ERA of 4.02, which is almost a full point higher than UAB’s conference leading 3.19 ERA.
Robert Garcia has emerged as the team’s Friday night starter with an ERA of 3.10 in 29 innings with 33 strikeouts. Chris Mourelle leads the team with 33.1 innings pitched to go along with a solid 3.78 ERA and 28 strikeouts.
FIU pitchers have given up the third fewest hits and third fewest walks in the conference, so our offense could struggle to get on base.
There really aren’t a lot of weaknesses on this FIU team. They are pretty well rounded, and probably better than their 14-10 record indicates as they’ve lost six games by one run.
They play pretty good defense and don’t give up many free passes as a pitching staff, so the UAB offense is going to have to earn their runs this weekend, which has been a problem.
Brewer Hicklen and Carter Pharis are still leading the offense with averages of .359 and .337 respectively, but the next best average is Stephen Dobbs at .250. Somebody else has to step up in this lineup.
After a brilliant start to the season, Garrett Whitlock has regressed in his past three starts. It would be great to see him get back on track this weekend.
Thomas Lowery has surpassed him with the best ERA on the team at 2.37, and he’s firmly planted himself in the starting rotation.
I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult for me to see UAB baseball winning this series against FIU on the road. They need to at least pick up one win, and if they find a way to get two wins I’ll be ecstatic.
Keep in mind that this team is still young and growing. There is definite improvement from last year, but coach Shoop still has some work to do with this team.
Weekend Schedule (Starters are Probable)
Friday – Miami, Fla. – 6 p.m. CT
Thomas Lowery (2-1, 2.37, 20) vs. Robert Garcia (1-4, 3.10, 33)
Saturday – Miami, Fla. – 6 p.m. CT
Garrett Whitlock (3-2, 2.88 ERA, 25 Ks) vs. Chris Mourelle (2-1, 3.78, 28)
Sunday – Regions Field – 11 a.m. CT
Ryan Ruggles (2-3, 4.39, 21 Ks) vs. Nick McDonald (3-0, 2.55, 26)