FAU Baseball looking to improve from last season

Coach John McCormack looks to get back to playoffs after missing the tournament last year.

In+the+last+game+of+the+season+last+year%2C+FAU+lost+to+UAB+8-6+on+May+17th.++They+were+14-16+in+Conference+USA+play+last+season.+Michelle+Friswell+%7C+Associate+Editor+
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FAU Baseball looking to improve from last season

In the last game of the season last year, FAU lost to UAB 8-6 on May 17th.  They were 14-16 in Conference USA play last season. Michelle Friswell | Associate Editor

In the last game of the season last year, FAU lost to UAB 8-6 on May 17th. They were 14-16 in Conference USA play last season. Michelle Friswell | Associate Editor

Michelle Friswell

In the last game of the season last year, FAU lost to UAB 8-6 on May 17th. They were 14-16 in Conference USA play last season. Michelle Friswell | Associate Editor

Michelle Friswell

Michelle Friswell

In the last game of the season last year, FAU lost to UAB 8-6 on May 17th. They were 14-16 in Conference USA play last season. Michelle Friswell | Associate Editor

Ryan Lynch, Contributing Writer

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Florida Atlantic baseball is set to begin the 2015 baseball season on Feb. 13 against the UConn Huskies, after falling one spot short of the conference tournament last year. The Owls finished last season 28-25 (14-16 in Conference USA).

The Owls were inconsistent at times in conference play, including a five game losing streak from March 21 to 28 against Southern Mississippi and Rice University.

“Not making the C-USA tournament was a disappointment especially for our seniors, but they understood that injuries are out of our control,” said head baseball coach John McCormack about last season. “The things that we could control, namely the effort given day in and day out was there.”

McCormack returns quite a few key players to his roster from last season’s team. Junior pitcher Seth McGarry, who was named as one of Perfect Game’s top 100 Junior players in the nation, brings back a 1.54 ERA and 12 strikeouts to bolster the Owls’ bullpen. Perfect Game is the largest amateur baseball scouting database in the world.

Five relief pitchers finished with more than 10 appearances and had an ERA under 3.00 for the season — Bo Logan, McGarry, Kevin Alexander, Andrew Archer, Reily Monkman.

“For Seth to be a big contributor, he needs to stay healthy,” said McCormack about McGarry. “There’s no doubt he has talent and he’s a good athlete, but his issue the first two years at FAU has been health.”

Also gaining recognition was Senior pitcher Drew Jackson, who was named to Perfect Game’s list of the top 100 senior players in the nation.

Jackson finished last season 5-4 in 13 starts, with a 4.48 ERA and 56 strikeouts. Jackson looks like one of the Owls’ top pitching threats, and looks to finish his college career strong.

“Drew was our Sunday starter,” McCormack said of Jackson.  “He had some really good outings last year and will work on being more consistent to give us what we need. His stuff [pitching] is plenty good.”

FAU has much of its offensive production coming back as well. Junior utilityman Brendon Sanger led the team in batting average with his .332 mark. He also contributed two home runs and 29 RBIs. Sophomore infielder CJ Chatham hit .300 with four HR — the most on the team last year — and 26 RBIs. Sophomore infielder Stephen Kerr was second on the team in batting average, hitting .324 with no home runs and 15 RBIs.

Senior infielder Ricky Santiago looks to bounce back from a slow season. After hitting .298 with five HR and 29 RBIs in 2013, Santiago hit .243 with three HR and 26 RBIs last season.

“Of all the veterans that have caught my eye, I would say Ricky Santiago,” Said McCormack of the senior captain. “He had a really good fall and has followed it up with a great spring.”

The team also has 10 freshmen coming onto the roster this year.

“The two freshmen I can see that will make an impact is Ryan Miller behind the plate and Alex House on the mound,” Said McCormack. “Both guys have performed well in intra-squads and  both guys have made good strides in their games, so we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do.”

FAU will play 17 of its first 18 games at home, benefiting from the sunny weather that many teams up north do not have.

“We have some great games early in the year,” said McCormack. “It is intentionally set-up that way – the schedule just kind of fell that way for us. I think it gives us a chance to have a nice year and get off to a good start.“

With all the pieces that he has returning, McCormack looks to have a very promising season ahead for his team. I predict the Owls go 33-23, good enough for a spot in the playoffs. If the veteran pitchers can serve up some masterful performances, and the offense can consistently produce runs, fans can expect to keep hearing the sounds and seeing the sights of baseball late into the postseason.

Key Returnees:

Ricky Santiago, Sophomore, INF

Stephen Kerr, Sophomore, INF

C.J. Chatham Sophomore, INF

Billy Endris, Junior, OF

Bo Logan, Redshirt Senior, LHP

Seth McGarry,  Junior, RHP

Drew Jackson, Senior, RHP

 

Key Losses:

Austin Gomber, LHP, Drafted in fourth round of 2014 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, plays in their farm system.

Kevin Alexander, RHP, Drafted in 39th round of 2009 MLB draft by Baltimore Orioles, plays in St. Louis farm system.

Tyler Rocklein, 1B